Written on an Old Lice Comb is the Oldest Known Sentence in the First Alphabet.

 


The first alphabet was created about 3,800 years ago by the Canannites. The basis for writing Latin, Greek, and Hebrew originated from the letters rather than Egyptian hieroglyphics. This early version served as the basis for the alphabets of English, Russian, and many other modern languages. The first known statement written in this first alphabet was just uncovered by scientists on an old ivory comb from roughly 3,700 years ago. "May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard," the inscription reads. It is true that this significant relic, which fills in linguistic gaps dating back thousands of years, was used to remove lice and their eggs from human heads. Even lice remains were discovered by the researchers on the comb.



The scientific team verified that the comb is made of elephant ivory and was probably brought in from Egypt. It would have belonged to a wealthy and affluent person, suggesting that they were nevertheless bothered by the bugs. The text is facing both directions, and the comb has teeth on both sides (as shown in the diagram below). One side featured six huge teeth for combing knotted hair, but all the teeth fell off over the years. In order to eliminate lice and their eggs from people's hair and beards, the other had 14 teeth that were closely spaced.


The comb was unearthed by archaeologists in Israel in 2016, but the inscription was just recently discovered. They dissected it using various methods to expose information about the letters that the human eye couldn't see. The team's research was published in the peer-reviewed, open-access Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology. The Guardian is where we first saw the news.




Archaeologists in Israel have also recently discovered hundreds of 2,300-year-old bone dice that were used in rituals and games, as well as opium residues in 3,500-year-old jars.


Melissa works as a science and technology staff writer for Nerdist. Additionally, she co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast on science and Star Wars, and moderates "science of" panels at conventions. Observe her

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