One in all the oldest written sentences on file blasts hair and beard lice

One in all the oldest written sentences on file blasts hair and beard lice


A Bronze Age ivory comb that contains a inscription about lice.



Archaeologists deciphered the high-scratching message written on a Bronze Age comb: “May perhaps perhaps well also this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.”
(Image credit: Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

One in all the oldest known sentences ever written became as soon as a plea against contracting lice, a brand unique gaze has chanced on.

Archaeologists made the hair-elevating discovery several years after unearthing a hair comb, which they tell in 2016 at an Israeli archaeological dwelling called Tel Lachish, positioned south of Tel Aviv. The positioning became as soon as as soon as a city inhabited by the Canaanites, who lived in what is now Syria between 3500 B.C. and 1150 B.C., all the design during the Bronze Age.

Fabricated from ivory, the pocket-sized comb measures lower than 1.5 inches prolonged (3.8 centimeters) and 1 stagger (2.5 cm) enormous. One facet contained six teeth, which had been seemingly former for untangling hair, whereas the other had 14 finer teeth for laying aside lice and their eggs, the researchers acknowledged. The total comb’s teeth hang broken off over time, but researchers did gather the partial stays of head lice on its 2nd teeth, in accordance to the gaze.

It wasn’t except last one year that Madeleine Mumcuoglu, a researcher at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where the portion has been saved, observed symbols chiseled into the comb. The usage of the zoom objective on her smartphone, she became as soon as able to assemble a end sufficient represent to decipher the cryptic message, which learn, “May perhaps perhaps well also this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.” 

The hidden plea became as soon as written in the language of the Canaanites, which preceded Latin, making it the oldest written language with an alphabet in historic previous, as it became as soon as the “first alphabet on this planet from which most of the brand new alphabets, together with the Latin alphabet, tumble,” gaze first author Daniel Vainstub (opens in unique tab), an epigrapher at Ben-Gurion University, urged Live Science in an electronic mail.

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“For the principle time we now hang a full sentence in a Canaanite dialect,” he added. “All of us know dozens of Canaanite inscriptions, but all of them preserve two or three phrases. Now we now hang a full and sure sentence that allows us to gaze the language, the grammar, the syntax, and diverse others. and compare it with other Semitic languages love Biblical Hebrew.”

Archaeologists were unsuccessful in radiocarbon-courting the comb, but they were able to narrow down its age, since “the [Canaanite] alphabet became as soon as invented in the 19th century B.C., and this inscription most perhaps must be dated to the 17th century B.C.,” Vainstub acknowledged.

There’s no indication of the comb’s proprietor, but researchers think it will even hang belonged to a prosperous particular person, keen in that it got right here from an elephant tusk. Canaan did no longer hang any elephants all the design through that time frame, so the topic matter seemingly got right here from Egypt, in accordance to a assertion. 

“Ivory became as soon as a in fact costly and outlandish field matter,” Vainstub acknowledged. “Surely the comb belonged to a prosperous man.”

The translated model of the gaze became as soon as printed Oct. 12 in the journal Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology (opens in unique tab).

Jennifer Nalewicki is a Salt Lake Metropolis-based fully mostly journalist whose work has been featured in The Fresh York Cases, Smithsonian Magazine, Scientific American, Standard Mechanics and additional. She covers several science subject matters from planet Earth to paleontology and archaeology to effectively being and tradition. Sooner than freelancing, Jennifer became as soon as a reporter at Internal Create Magazine, and before that she held an Editor role at Time Inc. Jennifer has a bachelor’s stage in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.