Welcome to the latest installment of “Writer Fuel – cool real-world stories that might inspire your little writer heart. Check out our Writer Fuel page on the LimFic blog for more inspiration. Today:
The 16th-century courtier John Dee, a scientific adviser to England’s Queen Elizabeth I, was also deeply involved in magic and the occult, and he tried to commune with ghosts, using a so-called spirit mirror made of polished obsidian.
Now, a new analysis of Dee’s infamous mirror has finally traced its origins — not to the spirit world, but to the Aztec Empire.
Obsidian mirrors such as Dee’s were known from Aztec culture, but there were no records on his mirror’s origins. However, geochemical analysis enabled researchers to link the mirror’s obsidian — a type of volcanic glass — to Pachuca, Mexico, a popular source of obsidian for Aztec people. This finding indicated that the artifact was Aztec and not a copy made from European obsidian, and Dee likely acquired the mirror after it was brought to Europe from Mexico, according to a new study.