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The Ancient Connection: Obsidian and Sunglass Lenses

The Ancient Connection: Obsidian and Sunglass Lenses
Where were sunglass lenses invented? Let us explore.

In the realm of eyewear, we often trace the origins of sunglasses to more recent times in Italy, but this story begins in the heart of ancient Mexico, where Teotihuacan stood as a thriving hub for obsidian craftsmanship. Known as the "City of the Gods," Teotihuacan held the key to an industry that would unknowingly contribute to the birth of sunglasses.

Map showing the location of Teotihuacan, Mexico.

Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city famed for its pyramids. Located in central Mexico about a 1-hour drive from Mexico City, this archaeological site is a popular tourist attraction today.

Photo of pyramids in the present-day archaeological site of Teotihuacan in Mexico.

Recommendation: If visiting Mexico City, there is no better morning than waking up at 4:30am, driving to Teotihuacan, and taking a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the pyramids. 


Obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass with exceptional clarity, was a prized material in Teotihuacan. While renowned for its use in weaponry and tools, the ancient craftsmen discovered another ingenious application – polished slices of obsidian as lenses.

In the pursuit of knowledge and a desire to understand the celestial bodies, the inhabitants of Teotihuacan used these polished obsidian lenses to observe the sun safely – effectively one of the first ever sun protective lenses. This ancient civilization, with its advanced understanding of optics, unwittingly became pioneers in the world of protective eyewear.

 a slice of polished obsidian next to the sun a slice of obsidian covering the sun, so it can be closely and safely studied through the protection of the obsidian lens.

Above: Photos illustrating how obsidian lenses can be used to study the sun and celestial bodies.  

 Scholars and scientists of Teotihuacan utilizing obsidian lenses to study the sun, gaining insights that would shape their understanding of the cosmos. The polished obsidian, with its natural ability to focus and diffuse light, served as a primitive yet effective form of eye protection against the intense solar rays.

Fast forward to the present day, where the concept of protective lenses has evolved into a cornerstone of fashion and functionality. Our modern luxury sunglasses pay homage to this ancient connection, combining cutting-edge materials with a nod to the innovative spirit of Teotihuacan.

 As we appreciate the craftsmanship of our meticulously designed eyewear, let's not forget the roots that extend back to the dawn of civilization. Teotihuacan's obsidian lenses were, in essence, the forebearers of the sunglasses we know and love today. Memorí sunglasses, inspired by the innovative spirit of the past, continue the legacy of protecting your eyes with style and substance.



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Mexico City Guide

Memorí's guide to create your best memories in mexico city where to stay     what to eat     photo backdrops     experiences   culture notes  

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PRE-SALE ORDERS: Estimated ship date April 10th 2024


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