Mind-blowing, wafer-thin spangles from around 100 BC

I first saw them in the delightful little museum of Ameca, located 60 kilometers west of Guadalajara.

pg8aThere were more than 100 of them: thin disks of obsidian no more than an inch in diameter, each one with a tiny hole right in the center. Some museologist had strung them all together (unfortunately using an ugly green plastic cord) to form a shimmering pectoral which was impressive indeed.

I admired the pectoral, but what I couldn’t get out of my mind was the fragility of those disks, some of them as thin as a dime. How had they been made and – all the more intriguing – how could anyone possibly have put a neat little hole through every one of them without shattering the glass? My surprise at the thinness of those disks was based on my own experience trying to help out that druid …

Oops, let me back up a bit.

Obsidian is natural glass that comes from a volcano. Jalisco has more sources of obsidian than any other region in Mesoamerica and the fourth largest deposits of the natural glass anywhere in the world.

That’s why “the druid” contacted me. Well, to be more precise, he was an Englishman who desperately needed a disk of green obsidian for what he described as a druidic ceremony.

Please login or subscribe to view the complete article.