Photo Credit: Emil Algam / Israel Antiquities Authority
Aviv Weizman shows the mirror fragment she uncovered.

A few days ago, seventeen-year-old Aviv Weizman from Kiryat Motskin, near Haifa, uncovered an exceptional find from the Byzantine period—a 1,500-year-old sorcery mirror. Aviv was part of an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeological excavation at the ancient site of Usha, as part of the Education Ministry’s Young Leaders’ Survival Course.

The Young Leaders’ Survival Course includes a 90 km survival trek from Mount Meron to Mount Hermon, with stops at IAA archaeological excavations around the country that are not yet open to the general public.

An almost complete mirror plate that was found in an excavation in Nitsana. / Clara Amit / Israel Antiquities Authority

At the Usha dig, near Kiryat Ata on the Haifa Bay, under the direction of IAA archaeologist Hanaa Abu Uqsa Abud, Aviv discovered an unusual pottery sherd peeping out of the ground. Aviv uncovered and picked up the sherd and showed it to Dr. Einat Ambar-Armon, Director of the IAA Northern Education Center, who recognized the find as the plaque of a sorcery mirror.

According to Navit Popovitch, IAA’s curator of the classical periods, the fragment is part of a glass mirror that was used for protection against the evil eye and was placed in the middle of the plaque.

The dig in Usha where the mirror fragment was found. / Clara Amit / Israel Antiquities Authority

“The idea was that the evil spirit, such as a demon, who looked in the mirror, would see his own reflection, and this would protect the owner of the mirror. Similar mirror plaques have been found in the past as funerary gifts in tombs, to protect the deceased on their journey to the world to come,” Popovitch explained.

Eli Shayish, Director of the Education Ministry’s Shelah and Land of Israel Studies, said, “The participation of the students in the archaeological excavations deepens their feeling of belonging to the country and its heritage.”

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