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History of Mirrors Dating Back 8000 Years

ENOCH, JAY M. OD, PhD, FAAO

Optometry & Vision Science:
doi: 10.1097/01.opx.0000237925.65901.c0
Historical Perspective
Abstract

Purpose. The purpose of this study is to consider the ancient history and early development of mirrors, because mirrors played a key role in refraction and magnification for an extended period of time before the invention of spectacles, including broad use in Roman times.

Findings. The earliest known manufactured mirrors (approximately 8000 years old) have been found in Anatolia (south central modern-day Turkey). These were made from obsidian (volcanic glass), had a convex surface and remarkably good optical quality. Mirrors from more recent periods have been found both in Egypt and Mesopotamia and still later in China and in the New World. In each of these areas, mirrors were in use by approximately 2000 BC or 4000 years ago.

Author Information

School of Optometry, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California

Received June 14, 2004; accepted July 11, 2006.

© 2006 American Academy of Optometry