Hair extensions may seem like a modern fashion trend, but it turns out they’ve been around a whole lot longer than most people realize, as a recent discovery out of Egypt shows. The skull of a woman who lived more than 3,300 years ago was uncovered with roughly 70 hair extensions still in place.
“The hair was most likely styled after death, before a person was buried” Jolanda Bos, an archaeologist working on the Amarna Project, told LiveScience. “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.”
Bos is among the researchers exploring the ancient city of Tell el-Amarna, which was the capital during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, the so-called “heretic king” for his attempts at altering the religion to focus on the worship of Aten, the sun disk.
The city was abandoned after the pharaoh’s death in 1332 BC, and subsequent rulers tried to wipe him from the record. But today, Amarna has been a treasure trove for researchers looking for a glimpse into life in Egypt during this brief period.
The skull with the extensions is one of 28 uncovered still with hair, and Bos said that while most of the cuts were short, there were a number of types and styles — including three-stranded braids and coils around the ears.
Bos told LiveScience she also found evidence that at least one woman dyed her graying hair, probably “for the same reason as why people dye their hair today, in order not to show the gray color.”
LiveScience has a photo gallery of ancient Egyptian hairstyles, which can be seen here. And you can see more skulls and other images from the excavation on the Amarna Project.