The first sentence ever found in the ancient alphabet, and it’s about beard lice
Archaeologists in Israel say they have found the first known written sentence in the Canaanite language, an alphabet used by the region’s ancient inhabitants that has until now been lost to time.
The sentence, which consists of 17 Canaanite characters, making a total of seven words, was written on an ivory comb carved from an elephant’s tusk. It says: “Let this tusk root out the lice of the hair and beard.”
The comb was found at Tell Lachish, a Bronze Age settlement about 25 miles from Jerusalem. It is about 1.38 inches by 0.98 inches, although its teeth have long since broken off. The details of the characters and meaning of the script were published today in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology.
“This is the first sentence ever found in the Canaanite language in Israel,” said Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and co-author of the study. release. “There are Canaanites in Ugarit, Syria, but they write in a different script than the alphabet that is used today.”
In an email to Gizmodo, Garfinkel added that the comb was likely produced in Egypt and then brought to Tell Lachish, where a local inscribed the deceptive request.
According to Garfinkel’s team, the comb markings are the first complete sentences written in the Canaanite language, one of the first known alphabets. (The: Sumerians and: Egyptians had even older scripts.)
Tel Lakish, now the site of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, was a bustling urban center for nearly 600 years B.C. From 1800 to B.C. 1150 year. The comb was found during excavations in 2017, but the letters were only noticed this year.
The site of Tel Lachish where the comb was found.
Like many modern lice combs, the Levantine comb had teeth on both sides. One set of teeth was thicker to loosen and arrange larger tufts of hair. The other set was much gentler, most likely to get the lice and their eggs out of the hair.
To the joy of the owner of the comb, the tool was doing its job. Under a microscope, the researchers found remains of head lice on the second prong of the tool. If you haven’t felt close to the past by looking at ancient Canaanite writings, maybe the chitinous membrane of a Bronze Age louse will throw you over the edge.
In the past, Canaanite inscriptions have been found, but not complete sentences. At Tel Lakish, archaeologists have so far discovered 10 inscriptions (including the comb), more than anywhere else in Israel.
Time will tell what other ancient writings are waiting to be found. Perhaps there is a Canaanite equivalent ancient sumerian bar joke— preferably punch line intact.
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