How Did People See Their Reflection in Ancient Times?

Have you ever wondered how people saw their reflections in ancient times? Without the modern-day luxury of mirrors, it’s fascinating to think about how our ancestors managed to catch a glimpse of themselves. Let’s take a journey through history and explore some of the ways people saw their reflections in ancient times.

Water Reflections

One of the earliest ways people could see their reflection was through water. Ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians and Greeks, would use still pools of water or polished metal surfaces to capture their reflection. This method required a calm day and still water, which was not always easy to come by.

Mirrors Made From Obsidian

Obsidian is a naturally occurring black volcanic glass that was formed from rapidly cooling lava. The ancient Mesoamericans used this material to create mirrors that were highly polished and reflective. These mirrors were often small, handheld objects that could be carried around easily.

Polished Metals

Another way people saw their reflection was through polished metals such as bronze or copper. The ancient Romans were known to use highly polished bronze shields as mirrors. These shields were not only functional but also served as a symbol of strength and power.

Reflections in Glass

Glass mirrors did not become widespread until the 16th century when Venetian glassmakers began producing them on a large scale. Prior to this time, glass was too expensive and fragile for everyday use. However, there is evidence that some ancient societies, such as the Egyptians and Romans, may have experimented with basic forms of glassmaking for decorative purposes.


In conclusion, people in ancient times had various methods for seeing their reflection. From water reflections to obsidian mirrors, polished metals to glass mirrors; each method had its limitations and challenges. It’s interesting how technology has evolved over time, and how something as simple as seeing our reflection has become so effortless today.