Hair comb - ROM2016_15062_27


Hair comb

Geography: Excavated at Gebel Adda, Egypt (ancient Nubia)
Date: c. 1000-1400 AD
Period: Late Nubian Christian Period
7.2 x 6.7 x 1.3 cm
Object number: 973.24.944
Credit Line: Gift of the National Geographic Society
Not on view

This double-toothed wooden comb has large teeth on one side of solid centre panel and fine teeth on the other. Combs in the pharaonic period had only a single row of teeth, but from the Ptolemaic Period onward we see combs with a double row of teeth. These double row combs were introduced into the Mediterranean world by the Greeks and their use continued in Egypt at least up until the Arab conquest. The more widely spaced teeth would be used to disentangle and comb out the hair, while the more narrowly spaced teeth would be used for smoothing and touch-ups. The closely spaced teeth may also have been used to comb out head-lice. The ends of a number of the teeth have broken off.

In section this comb tapers to a point at the end of the teeth on each side with a maximum thickness in the centre of 1.3 cm. The 1.5 cm wide central panel on this comb is decorated on each side with a pattern of seven incised concentric circles spaced with one large, two small, one large, two small, and one large. Some sort of a compass would have been used to make these incised circles.  This sort of decoration is very common in Late Roman and Byzantine objects from Egypt (S.B. Shubert)

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