A bronze mask of the Greek god Pan believed to be some 2,000 years old was discovered by University of Haifa archaeologists recently near Lake Kinneret in the Galilee.
According to the archaeologists, the mask is unlike any other discovered before due to its great size - larger than a human head.
The mask was discovered at the Susita archaeological dig site, which was formerly the site of the pagan Roman city of Antiochia Hippos.
Hippos, one of the Decapolis, was the major polis east of the Sea of Galilee, set upon Susita Mountain crest and overlooking the Jewish city of Tiberias on the western side of the lake.
The figure depicted in the mask has small horns hidden between locks of hair, which led the archaeologists to understand that the mask was of Pan, the god of shepherds, who is half man and half goat. He also is the god of music and enjoyment. After further cleaning of the mask, the archaeologists found further goat-like characteristics in the mask, cementing the initial diagnosis that the mask was meant to depict Pan.
The mask was found at a spot believed to be outside of the main city of Hippos, however, the archaeologists also found signs of a large basalt structure from the Roman period having been situated in the area. The placement of the structure and the mask, well outside of the city, but close to the road into the city, suggests that the site may have housed an altar to Pan, the archaeologists believe. Animal sacrifices to Pan would have been carried out, not only in the holy places in the city, but outside in nature and in caves. Such an outdoor altar to Pan had previously been found north of Susita.