Ivory comb by Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority/HU

The initial sentence ever uncovered that was written in the Canaanite language turns out to be a plea to eradicate beard lice.

Unearthed in the area of an historic metropolis in Israel by a workforce from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Southern Adventist University from Tennessee, the ivory comb dates again 3,700 several years.

The inscription on the ivory, derived from an elephant tusk, was translated to be, ‘May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard’.

The alphabet, which is an ancestor to quite a few modern day alphabets, was invented all around 1800 BCE and was employed by the Canaanites and afterwards by most other languages in the environment. Until finally recently, no significant Canaanite inscriptions experienced been identified in Israel, help you save only two or three text right here and there—so researchers called the artifact an astounding discovery.

Dated to all over 1700 BCE, the smaller comb was unearthed at Tel Lachish—an ancient Canaanite and Israelite metropolis in the Shephelah region, on the South lender of the Lakhish River.

“This is the very first sentence ever found in the Canaanite language in Israel. There are Canaanites in Ugarit in Syria, but they generate in a distinct script, not the alphabet that is utilized until right now,” stated Professor Yosef Garfinkel. “The comb inscription is immediate evidence for the use of the alphabet in day-to-day activities some 3700 many years back. This is a landmark in the record of the human capability to create.”

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The letters of the inscription had been engraved in a pretty shallow manner. It was excavated in 2017 but the letters ended up only discovered later on throughout publish-processing in 2022 by Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu.

The comb only steps 3.5 x 2.5 cm, and has tooth on both sides. Though their bases are nonetheless obvious, the comb teeth on their own have been damaged in antiquity. The central element of the comb is to some degree eroded, maybe by the stress of fingers keeping the comb for the duration of haircare or elimination of lice from the head or beard. The aspect of the comb with 6 thick tooth was employed to untangle knots in the hair, whilst the other side, with 14 fantastic tooth, was utilised to get rid of lice and their eggs, much like currently.

There are 17 Canaanite letters on the comb. They are archaic in form—from the very first phase of the creation of the alphabet script. They sort seven terms in Canaanite, looking through: “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.”

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Ivory was a quite pricey substance and probable an imported luxurious object. As there have been no elephants in Canaan through that time time period, the comb probable arrived from nearby Egypt—showing that even men and women of large social status endured from lice.

The analysis crew analyzed the comb by itself for the presence of lice below a microscope and photographs were being taken of the two sides. Stays of head lice, .5–0.6 mm in sizing, ended up found on the next tooth. The climatic disorders of Lachish, on the other hand, did not permit preservation of complete head lice but only those people of the outer chitin membrane of the nymph stage head louse.

Regardless of its compact dimensions, the inscription on the comb, which was deciphered by Dr. Daniel Vainstub at Ben Gurion University, has quite exclusive features, some of which are one of a kind and fill in gaps and lacunas in our knowledge of several aspects of the society of Canaan in the Bronze Age. For the very first time, we have an entire verbal sentence created in the dialect spoken by the Canaanite inhabitants of Lachish, enabling us to evaluate this language in all its facets with the other resources for it. Next, the inscription on the comb sheds light on some hitherto badly attested features of the daily everyday living of the time, haircare and working with lice.

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3rd, this is the initial discovery in the area of an inscription referring to the intent of the item on which it was prepared, as opposed to dedicatory or ownership inscriptions on objects. Further, the engraver’s ability in properly executing these kinds of very small letters (1–3 mm wide) is a point that from now on must be taken into account in any endeavor to summarize and attract conclusions on literacy in Canaan in the Bronze Age.

The website of Tel Lachish, which was a major Canaanite town point out in the 2nd millennium BCE and the second most crucial town in the biblical kingdom of Judah, is under the defense of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The conclusions were being published in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology.

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