These tweezers date to the 18th Dynasty and are from Abydos. They are made from a single piece of metal (copper alloy). They measure 69mm long. The type with pinched top originate in the 18th Dynasty (Capel and Markoe 1996, 75–76). See also Petrie (1917, 51, pls. LXII. LXIV) for similar forms.
Such items were used to remove body and/or facial hair and could have been used by either men or women. It is clear from art that for most of ancient Egyptian history Egyptian men were clean shaven. Body hair is not shown and was prohibited for priests. It also seems that body hair was considered undesirable for women (Derchain 1975, 74). For more information on beauty treatments generally in ancient Egypt see Manniche (1999).
Tweezers were also used during mummification to pull out internal organs etc. (Janot 2000) and were also probably used in medical procedures.
These tweezers were donated to us by the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Capel, A., K. and Markoe, G., E. (eds.), (1996), Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven. Women in Ancient Egypt. New York: Hudson Hills Press.
Derchain, P. (1975), ‘La Perruque et le Cristal’. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur, 2, 55–74.
Janot, F. (2000), Les Instruments d’Embaumement de l’Égypte ancienne. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.
Manniche, L. (1999), Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy, and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt. New York: Cornell University Press.
Petrie, W.M.F. (1917), Tools and Weapons. London: British School of Archaeology in Egypt.