Historical Masks This stone mask from the preceramic Neolithic period dates to 7000 BC and is probably the oldest mask in the world Replica of the funeral mask of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal at the Museo Nacional de la Mascara in Mexico The so-called 'Mask of Agamemnon', a 16th Century BCE mask discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 at Mycenae, Greece. National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Greek masks Men in Greek Drama had to play woman's parts. The reason why the Greeks used masks is because there were huge amounts of ceremonies devoted to Dionysus, the god of wine, vegetation and festivals, which all included the use of masks. One of the main reasons why masks were worn was also that in plays there were many female roles, but since at that time women weren’t allowed to play, therefore a man would play the role with a female mask. Another function of masks by the ancient Greeks was that a actor could easily change roles by just changing his mask. Commedia dell'arte Commedia dell’arte (Italian pronunciation: [komˈmɛːdja delˈlarte]) is a form of theatre characterized by masked “types” which began in Italy in the 16th century and was responsible for the advent of the actresses and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios.