Lighter, Science

Mummies With Hair Gel

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Mummies at the salon; image BNPS.CO.UKThe Ancient Egyptians probably used hair gel to style their hair, new research on mummies shows.

Scientists at the University of Manchester, UK published an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science that said, “…in cases where the (mummies’) hair was styled, the embalming process was adapted to preserve the hairstyle.”

In other words, when the bodies were turned into mummies, the embalmers made sure their hair didn’t get mussed.

The researchers studied hair from 18 mummies who lived around 300 B.C. in Egypt.

Under a microscope, the scientists noticed that the hair on nine of the mummies had a coating on it. When they analysed it, it turned out to be made of plant and animal fats.

The fat-based hair gel was likely used by the Egyptians to hold their hair in place and style it, much as hair products are used today.

The mummies had different hairstyles depending on their age, gender and social status. Some of the younger men had their hair parted and slicked down, says the study’s leader Dr. Natalie McCreesh. Some of the women had curls or even hair extensions.

She said that probably the poorest ancient Egyptians didn’t style their hair, but it likely wasn’t only the pharaohs – ordinary Egyptians likely used styling products, too.

In the past, researchers have also found objects resembling curling tongs placed in Egyptian tombs. The tongs may have been used with the hair gel for the perfect look.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
We are often told, “it is not what’s on the outside, but what’s in the inside that counts.” What do you think this means? Do you think this statement is true? Use information from the article and your own experiences to answer these questions.

Reading Prompt
Similar to ancient Egypt, we often make generalizations about a person based on their hairstyle.  For example, we might treat someone with a ponytail differently if they had a mohawk.
Brainstorm a list of all of the hairstyles that you know and write down what each hairstyle ‘says’ about the person wearing it.
Do you think it is fair to make these generalizations?  Why or why not?

Primary and Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Nouns
Nouns are people, places and things.  Some nouns in the article are: Egypt, hair, microscope.  Find and circle all of the nouns in the article. Record whether each noun is a person, place or thing.