Archaeologists in western Turkey have uncovered an almost perfectly preserved terracotta mask depicting Dionysus, the Greco-Roman god of wine and ecstasy, reports Ahmet Pesen for the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The team—led by Kaan Iren, an archaeologist at Mugla Sitki Kocman University—discovered the 2,400-year-old mask while excavating the ancient city of Daskyleion’s acropolis.
“This is possibly a votive mask,” Iren tells the Anadolu Agency. “More information will become available over time with more research.”
Popular legend suggests that donning a Dionysus mask freed worshippers from their hidden desires and regrets. This sense of liberation—and the lavish ceremonies thrown by the god’s followers—contributed to the development of Dionysian theater, encouraging actors to “fully embody their roles [and transform] into the characters on stage,” according to Anna Wichmann of the Greek Reporter.