Monday, September 20, 2010

Fancy a Haircut?

While doing the normal lab work of washing and cataloging artifacts, I came upon a cool find…Scissors! This then made me want to know exactly how old these scissors are, and maybe get a brief history lesson of scissors in as well.

I did a little web research and found numerous articles that date scissors back to our pyramid-building friends in Egypt around 1500 BCE. At this time, they were but a single piece of bronze metal formed into a U shape in which either side was sharpened into blades. The curve of the U acted as a spring in which to push the sharp blades together in order to cut (think of grilling tongs).

The cross-blade scissors are attributed to the Romans around 100 AD. These scissors were essentially shears, used more for sheep and gardens. Ivor Noël Hume mentions in Artifacts of Colonial America, that these types of shears were used onward into the early 17th century. These big chunky shears were anchored together in the middle by a rivet and two washers on either side of the blades.

So how old are the scissors found in Unit 95, Stratum 2 behind the Burch House? Drum roll please…We believe they are mid-17th – early 18th centuries. This is due to the fact that the axis for the rivet is well below the eyelet handles. Furthermore, the handles themselves are thin and curve up and outward back into themselves, which is typical in mid-17th century scissors.

That’s all for now!

We will be at Port Tobacco tomorrow, behind the Burch House. See you there!

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