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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Women: Hair Free since BC

Epilators, razors, hot wax and cream. Every modern woman has her weapon of choice when it comes to combating unsightly body hair.

Our ancient foremothers and their medieval granddaughters were no different. They kept themselves looking well groomed with the help of tweezers.

Roman women (and men) plucked their arm pit hair using tweezers. Well, actually they didn’t pluck it, their servants did. Between that and scraping hot, grimy oil off bathers (with a strigil) I can safely say Roman beautician is not on my dream job list.

Medieval women were not fond of the follicles that grow between your eyebrows and the crown of your head. Woe to the unfortunate maiden with a low forehead! She would have to pluck away at her hairline back towards the crown until she achieved the highly fashionable high forehead all the cool kids were wearing.

Tweezers

I pulled out a pair of tweezers for our Englishcombe display. They were excavated from Swallow Street, Bath in the 1980s and archaeologists were never quite able to put their finger in a precise date. They are probably medieval but they could also Roman.

I guess we’ll never know if they were used to pluck arm pits or foreheads.

The tweezers were displayed as part of a medieval vanity set during the Archaeology for Everyone Event, part of the British Festival of Archaeology, at Englishcombe. They were displayed along side a mirror case and a bone comb.


Joanna

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