Archaeologists in Israel announced yesterday their “one of a kind” discovery of a “2,000-year-old bronze mask larger than a human head.” According to the archaeologists, the mask depicts Pan, the ancient god of shepherds, who is half man, half goat (or in China, half man, half goat-or-sheep.). Here’s how they could tell:
Archaeologists first identified Pan, also known as Faunus or Satyr, by the horns poking out from his hair. A closer inspection revealed “further goat-like characteristics,” including a beard.
Allow me to be forthright: I have no formal archaeological training. I don’t even have informal archaeological training. That said, I think the experts here should at least be open to the possibility that this is a classic case of mistaken identity. The archaeologists turned up the mask while using a metal detector to search for coins. Had they continued to search, perhaps they’d have found a different metallic object: Occam’s razor. After all, wouldn’t the more obvious identity of a bearded mask adorned with horns discovered in the land of Israel be that it depicts just about any old Hebrew? (see above)