Pre-Columbian anthracite mirror
from Mexico, Meso-American, 1st Millennium A.D.
Anthracite coal, Diameter 4 1/4 inches
Mirrors in the Meso-American world were made of black shiny materials, usually volcanic glass, obsidian. But occasionally one finds mirrors made of iron pyrite and as here, anthracite coal. Pierced in back for a cord that would have permitted it to be held, the front was highly polished. Degradation through time as allowed the structure of the material to be visible, originally it would have presented a smooth reflective unbroken surface. Dating is a challenge since such mirrors were made from the Olmec through Mayan periods, 1st millennium B.C. to A.D.