Friday, February 22, 2013

On Hair, Ancient And More Ancient

Janet Stephens, the "hair dressing archaeologist", has been much in the news of late for having successfully recreated the hair-style worn by ancient Rome's Vestal Virgin priestesses.

Here's how she got her start:

 “One day, I was killing time at the Walters Museum in Baltimore while my daughter was at a music lesson and I ended up in the Ancient Roman collection,” says Stephens. “They were making changes in the gallery and they had set some of the portrait statues in the middle of the gallery and I got to see the back of the head and that is where all the hairdressing happens.  Usually, they are pushed up against a wall because they expect you to be most interested the face but I’m a hairdresser--I don’t care about her face, I want to see the hair.  I looked at the back of these heads and mentally started dissecting the style.”

Once home, Stephens pulled out a long hair mannequin and got braiding and weaving, using reverse engineering and her hairdresser smarts to recreate the shape.

Since then she has managed to recreate many ancient styles, and debunk many previous theories about how these elaborate dos were put together. It turns out, for example, that many them really were the result of styling and not, as previously thought, wigs.  The one below is "classical Greek" (5th c. BC Athenian)

Some of Stephen's more elaborate recreations can be seen at her youtube channel here.  More on the archaeological significance of her research can be found here.

2 comments:

dizzy said...

You are a man of many parts.
I loved this comment --

// I am sure you know that you are a great resource to the Neopagan community. //

omair khan said...
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