Ancient Egyptian 'head cone mystery' solved by archaeologists

Researchers had long speculated about the purpose of pointy “head cones” depicted in Egyptian art. Then they found the real thing

Beeswax, Amarna

1/18/2022 6:40:00 AM

Researchers had long speculated about the purpose of pointy “head cones” depicted in Egyptian art. Then they found the real thing

Researchers have long speculated about the purpose and meaning of pointy “head cones” depicted in Egyptian art. Now they’ve actually found the real thing.

that melted over the heads of their wearers and acted as a sort of ancient, fragranced hair gel.The findings from Amarna seem to negate the ancient styling product theory. The cones weren’t solid—they were hollow shells folded around brown-black organic matter the team thinks may be fabric. Both head cones had chemical signatures of decayed wax; the team concluded they were made of beeswax, the only biological wax known to be used by ancient Egyptians. Furthermore, no traces of wax were found in the hair of the most well-preserved skeleton.

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Perfume, waxy and meant to melt downwards. Learned this is 4th grade. Only women have them, etc And the real purpose of the head cones remain a mystery I thought when I read about these before that they may have been some method of lice control…. 0ld news 'The head cones were actually solid lumps of perfumed fat that melted over the heads of their wearers and acted as a sort of ancient, fragranced hair gel.' ~which would constitute a definite HELL NO for now more modern times if it did got passed down as a thing I'm sure. 😅

: I ricercatori avevano a lungo speculato sullo scopo dei 'coni di testa' appuntiti raffigurati nell'arte egizia. Poi hanno trovato la realtà. Thanks for the read The cone head aliens! Depending on your age you'll get that. Pay Wall

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Those aren’t “cones “ they are Mind control devices…women back then still didn’t like men to do as they please… thank you for the free article, fascinating... Maybe they balance the cones on their heads to improve posture Anti-Paywall: The paintings indicate useage by the elite to display to the gods, but they were found in the burial sites of lower class women whose remains are consistent with skeletal fractures common in dancers. So likely theory is dancers wore them during religious ceremonies

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perfumed fat that melted over the heads of their wearers and acted as a sort of ancient, fragranced hair gel. The findings from Amarna seem to negate the ancient styling product theory. The cones weren’t solid—they were hollow shells folded around brown-black organic matter the team thinks may be fabric. Both head cones had chemical signatures of decayed wax; the team concluded they were made of beeswax, the only biological wax known to be used by ancient Egyptians. Furthermore, no traces of wax were found in the hair of the most well-preserved skeleton. Given artistic associations of the objects with childbirth, and the fact that at least one of the specimens was an adult woman, the team suggests the cones had something to do with fertility. But the fact that they were found in a non-elite cemetery makes it difficult to interpret the meaning behind them. The ancient cemetery in Amarna, Egypt where the burials containing head cones were discovered. Photograph by the Amarna Project, Antiquity Publications Ltd Please be respectful of copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited. In Egyptian iconography, the people depicted wearing the head cones were mostly elite, though some seem to have been servants, says Nicola Harrington , an archaeologist at the University of Sydney. The Amarna tombs have less artwork than other burial sites, but a handful of images show people wearing the cones as they prepare for burials and make offerings. “Essentially, [the cones] are worn in the presence of the divine,” she says. Harrington has her own theory for the identities of the cone-wearing women: Perhaps they were dancers. Both specimens had spinal fractures, and one had a degenerative joint disease. Though bone problems could be chalked up to stressful lives and the intense labor of non-elite Egyptians, Harrington points out that stress and compression fractures are common among professional dancers. Perhaps the cones “marked [dancers] as members of a community that served the gods,” she says. That could explain why these people were buried with the cones, Harrington suggests, despite their “basic burials.” Without more archaeological evidence, though, there’s no way to know how the cones were really used—or if they were used more widely. Unfortunately, says Stevens, we may never find out. “In the very early days of Egyptology, the work was very rushed, a bit haphazard,” she says. Today’s more careful archaeological techniques will hopefully protect and identify head cones in future excavations, but their presence in earlier burials may have been overlooked completely. But even if these cones are the only two that have survived to today, the chance discovery still has value. Archaeologists know a lot about elite in ancient Egypt from administrative records and elaborately painted tombs, but the dearth of written and artistic records of non-elite Egyptians makes their lives a lot more mysterious to modern researchers. That lack of information about the lives of the majority of people who lived in ancient Egypt makes this find even more precious—and serves as a reminder of the millions of buried stories that are still untold. Share