Hair comb fragment - 973.24.2181_1


Hair comb fragment

Geography: Excavated at Gebel Adda, Egypt (ancient Nubia)
Date: c. 1000-1400 AD
Period: Late Nubian Christian Period
8 x 5 cm, 0.4 cm
Object number: 973.24.2181
Credit Line: Gift of the National Geographic Society
Not on view

This type of wooden comb with two opposing rows of differently spaced teeth was introduced to Egypt from the Mediterranean world in post pharaonic period. This example is missing about 2 cm from one entire side. The opposite side is so worn that it is likely that the broken comb had been used as a scrapper of some sort.

The original comb had an “H-shaped” frame with the subtly flaring uprights being about 1 cm across and the central panel about 2 cm across.  This central panel is delineated by incised horizontal lines at the edge of the teeth on both sides. The teeth on both sides taper to a point. On one side 13 of a total of c. 15 widely spaced teeth are preserved; these finely carved teeth would have been used for untangling or combing out hair. On the opposite side some 35 out of c. 48 very closely spaced teeth are preserved; these very closely packed teeth could be used to smooth or touch up a coiffure, or perhaps to comb out lice from the hair. (S.B. Shubert)

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