Researchers Discover 3,300-Year-Old Egyptian Skulls With Hair Extensions

Hair extensions might seem like a relatively recent invention – a creation of modern hair salons and makeup artists – but a new discovery puts the lie to that assumption. Archaeologists digging in Egypt have discovered the remains of a woman with 70 extensions fastened tightly into her hair, proving that there’s really nothing new under the sun.

The discovery, according to Live Science, was made by archaeologists working in a city built between 1353 and 1335 B.C. The researchers found the woman’s remains and discovered that she was wearing “a very complex coiffure with approximately 70 extensions fastened in different layers and heights on the head.”

Little is known about the woman with the extensions, but she was one of hundreds of people who archaeologists found in a nearby cemetery that held the remains of residents of Amarna. A number of others had similarly styled hair, but this woman in particular appeared to go above and beyond when it came to extensions.

“Whether or not the woman had her hair styled like this for her burial only is one of our main research questions,” one archaeologist told Live Science. “The hair was most likely styled after death, before a person was buried. It is also likely, however, that these hairstyles were used in everyday life as well and that the people in Amarna used hair extensions in their daily life.”

Reportedly, analysis of the extensions revealed that some had extensions made of both gray and dark hair. That suggests that the hair came from multiple donors.

Another interesting discovery from the site: apparently Amarna had a good deal of ethnic diversity. Remains found in the area had hair that ranges from curly and black to middle brown and straight. That suggests that there was a good deal of difference in the way people looked, and perhaps that there was a good deal of change over time in Amarna’s population.

The braids in question weren’t terribly long; researchers say that they were typically about 7.9 inches long, giving their wearers shoulder-length hair. They weren’t terribly thick either, measuring about half an inch thick typically.

The ancient Egyptians apparently used fat to help create the hairstyles, though it is uncertain whether the fat came from animals. It is thought that using fat would allow them to keep the hairstyle in place after death, which is borne out by the fact that researchers are able to examine the extensions in the current day, thousands of years after their wearers were buried.

Proving that some things never change, the researchers say they even discovered one woman who had used a kind of orange-red coloring on her graying hair. Her reason?

“The same reason as why people dye their hair today,” one researcher said, “in order to not show the gray.”

[All images via Live Science]