Baltimore hair stylist tries her hand at archaeology

Here's a nice reminder that an expert is only "an expert" in their specific, narrow field, and (more importantly) everybody in an expert in something. A Baltimore hair stylist has helped archaeologists better understand how Roman and Greek women achieved some of the complicated, towering hairdos depicted in sculpture and paintings. How? She experimentally demonstrated that the word most scientists had been translating as "hairpin" probably should be translated as "needle and thread".


  1. Yay Citizen Science!  But, ah, WSJ links don’t work for kenyan muslim socialist proles like me…

    Edit: Joshua’s link worked for me.

  2. Thought: she’s now an archaeologist, not just a hair-dresser. I know it’s just splitting hairs, but sometimes we portray science like it’s something everyone else does.

    You do the work, you run the inquiries, you are a scientist.

  3. A little while ago, I read a very interesting book by a modern construction engineer about his take on how the great pyramid was build. He hewed closely to the archeology, while using his practitioner’s eye to how him might do it (with ancient techniques). He figured that they needed 10,000 at peak, but that was for only 2-3 years because of the narrowing surface area. They could really only work on one level at a time. At the pyramid got taller, the level got smaller, meaning fewer and fewer people could fit.

  4. ‘Course she was able to figure that out. Y’ever see one o’ those frightening Baltimore beehive do’s? Major structural engineering and a hard shell coat of Aqua Net.

  5. Fascinating stuff. If only I had hair. :P

    Janet Stephens is both an archaeologist and architect of stranded construction. She could probably have given the Roeblings pointers.

    A few video links.

    Vestal Hairdressing: recreating the “Seni Crines”

    The hairstyle of Empress Plotina

    Classical Greek Hairstyle

    Hairstyles of Faustina the Younger

    .. and more if you follow the links.

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