MOL

Cairo

You may think hair extensions were created for the feisty, fake-tan bearing women of today – but they were in fact being flaunted by Egyptian women more than 3,000 years ago.

The pieces were elaborate creations, with one recently uncovered in an Egyptian coffin made up of 70 elaborate extensions fastened together. The owner of the hair piece had her body wrapped in a mat, but her name, age and occupation remain a mystery to archaeologists.

The skull was one of hundreds found in the ancient city of Amarna, many of which had their final hairstyles incredibly well-preserved using fat. One skull had extensions made of grey and dark black hair suggesting a number of different people donated their hair to create the piece.

However, the latest intricate design of hair extension has left researchers on the Amarna Project baffled.

‘Whether or not the woman had her hair styled like this for her burial only is one of our main research questions,’ Jolanda Bos, an archaeologist working on the Amarna Project, told Owen Jarus at 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.’ Out of 100 skulls analysed, 28 still had hair. The type of hair ranged from curly black to light brown and curly, suggesting some ethnic diversity in the region.

Skulls with in tact hair often had curls around their ears, and many also had braids.

‘All braids found in the coiffures were simple and of three strands, mostly 0.4 inches wide, with strands of approximately 0.2 inches (5mm) when tightly braided,’ Ms Bos writes in the journal article. People at Amarna also liked to keep their hair short. ‘Braids were often not more than 7.9 inches (20cm) long, leaving the hair at shoulder length approximately,’ Ms Bos added. And it appears ancient Egyptian women used a similar technique to hide their greys. Some of the skulls shows evidence of a dye, possibly henna, used on hair.