Lice Comb Contains Oldest Alphabetical Phrase: ‘May This Fang Fight Lice’ | Science

The oldest complete sentence of the oldest alphabet has been found on an ivory lice comb that is over three thousand years old. “May this fang fight against hair and beard lice,” is written on the comb.

In 2017, the item was already discovered in Israel, but superficial engravings were only noticed in December last year. The spell is in Canaanite script, researchers conclude in the Jerusalem Archeology Magazine. That is the oldest alphabet about 3,800 years old.

“The inscription is very human,” says archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “In the comb there is a desire to destroy lice in the hair and beard. There were no aerosols and modern medicines then.”

The 3.5 by 2.5 centimeter comb comes from Lachish in the Ancient Near East, the second most important city in the Kingdom of Judah. Researchers believe the item dates to 1700 B.C. The product proves that people have suffered from head lice for thousands of years. The researchers’ photos even show traces of lice on the comb.

So far two other Bronze Age alphabetic texts have been found, writes NRC. A dagger from 1700 to 1550 BC. C. has an illegible inscription. A pottery fragment from 1450 BC. C. contains words like “slave” and “honey”.

Gabrielle Rhodes

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