This historic Canaanite comb is engraved with a plea towards lice

Engraved into the facet of a virtually 4,000-year-old ivory comb is an easy want: Get these lice out of my hair.

This faint inscription, written within the early language of the traditional Canaanites, represents the earliest recognized occasion of an entire sentence written utilizing a phonetic alphabet, says archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew College of Jerusalem.

The writing system of the Canaanites, who lived in a area within the japanese Mediterranean known as the Levant till round 2,000 years in the past, later served as a significant foundation for a lot of trendy alphabets (SN: 7/27/17). That makes the comb “crucial object I’ve ever discovered throughout an excavation,” says Garfinkel. The analysis was printed November 9 within the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology.

The Canaanites had been a cultural group that traded broadly throughout the Mediterranean. Few of their written data have survived, so most of what researchers find out about them come from different paperwork, such because the Outdated Testomony.

The comb was the unearthed in 2016 among the many ruins of the traditional metropolis of Lachish in present-day Israel. Years later, when the comb was despatched to a lab to seek for traces of lice, somebody observed faint symbols etched on the facet. A better look revealed that the symbols spelled out the sentence, “Might this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard,” Garfinkel and colleagues report November 9 within the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology.

The invention could supply a glimpse into the lifetime of considered one of Lachish’s rich denizens. The truth that the sentence refers to a beard suggests it belonged to an elite man, Garfinkel says, since elephant ivory was an costly good that needed to be imported from Egypt. 

The plea towards lice is “so human,” says Garfinkel, who notes that different writings from the time are likely to focus on royal accomplishments or faith. It additionally seems that the comb was capable of fulfill its function, at the very least considerably. Between the tooth, the researchers discovered the traditional stays of a louse.

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