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Ancient Ivory Comb for Head & Beard Lice

Al Kowsky

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I remember as a young school boy in the 1950s head lice was a serious problem in the Rochester, NY schools. If a kid was discovered with head lice he was immediately sent home so the little critters didn't spread to other kids ☹️. Most boys, including me & my brother, were given short hair cuts (brush cuts) for easy head inspection 😁. Removing the critters from an infected kid was a real challenge for the parents 😬. So it was with some level of amusement that I read this interesting article by Isaac Shultz, about an ivory comb used 1,400-1,500 BCE years ago for removing beard lice 🤣. The comb was discovered in Israel but was most likely made in Egypt. The comb has an engraved Canaanite inscription of 17 characters translating to "May this tusk root out lice of the head and the beard."

                                                  Canaanite lettering on an ancient ivory comb found in Israel.

To give even more substance to this discovery, under microscopic examination a tiny piece of lice was still lodged in the comb 😲!


For readers interested in a more detailed essay about this comb see the attached link below ☺️.




Edited by Al Kowsky
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Head lice was a problem recently in Rochester and in other schools.  That policy of sending kids home is still in place, at least, in NY. Teachers are always looking to see if kids are scratching their heads and will send them home if lice is found. I read that article and chuckled as we are still facing this problem.  At least its not genital crabs! I wonder what they used to remove those!

Edited by quant.geek
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I grew up in Rochester, NY, too, and remember lice being an issue one in a while.

Here near Seattle, my kids' school had the same policy and occasionally we'd receive emails about students being sent home.

I must admit my head itched when I read the post!

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