First complete sentence using the alphabet is an anti-lice spell

(ORDO NEWS) — A 3,700-year-old ivory pest control comb found at Tel Lachish (Israel) contains what appears to be the oldest complete sentence written using the ancestral alphabets at the site where it was invented.

The letters reveal a lot about the development of the alphabet, as well as the problems of the ancient elite, according to a new study.

The invention of writing changed the world for many reasons, one of which is the understanding of what was important to people in previous eras. One of these things was the biting insects, especially the lice that inhabited the beards.

Neither the ancient Egyptians nor the Mesopotamians used what we now call an alphabet, starting with pictorial representations of words that became more and more abstract over time.

The Canaanite languages ​​are believed to have given rise to the letters used in modern European and Arabic writing.

Presumably, the earliest examples of this writing are about 3800 years old. Both, however, were from Egypt and appear to have been the work of migrant workers.

As for early examples of the use of the alphabet from what was then Canaan, all we have are scattered words from about 3,300 years ago.

The Tel Lachish ridge changes this, although the letters are so small and shallow that they were not noticed during the first excavations in 2016.

The subtlety of the handwriting suggests that literacy may have been more common in Canaan at the time than previously thought.

The shape of the 17 symbols of the coat of arms has led researchers to estimate its age at 3700 years, although it was found in a much younger layer of the ancient city.

They translate the words as: “Let this comb pluck the lice out of the hair and beard.” It is clear that writing at that time used letters much more efficiently, which makes sense when you had to painstakingly forge them from clay, bone or elephant tooth.

This is the first inscription in the region, indicating the purpose of the item, and not its owner.

The small comb was damaged and lost most of its teeth, but it used to have six thick stripes on one side and 14 thinner ones on the other.

It is believed that the larger teeth were used to disentangle knots and the smaller ones could remove lice, a system that is still used today to control biting insects. Lice chitin was found even on the second tooth of the comb.

As the researchers note, even before the discovery of the inscription on the crest, he had already told something about life in the Middle East at that time.

Anything made of ivory was considered a luxury item and had to be imported from Africa.

Head lice have been known to plague mankind for at least 10,000 years, and the comb proves that they are a problem even for the wealthy.

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