Scissors. History of the most ordinary things
The knife is one of mankind’s most ancient inventions. But scissors emerged only in the 16th century BCE. The great grandad of modern scissors was discovered by archaeologists at excavations in Egypt. Those scissors were made from a single piece of metal. And they worked in a completely different way: two parallel springy blades were connected at either end of a metal arc, or joined by a loop.
By the way, such scissors are still used for shearing sheep!
Modern scissors, consisting of two crossed blades connected by a hinge, were invented in ancient Rome. But there for a long time – very many centuries! – they were used solely for manicure/pedicure.
In Europe, scissors were first used by barbers, and only subsequently by tailors. This happened in the 10th century.
The first example of European scissors was found in quite unusual circumstances. In 1938 British archaeologists decided to confirm (or refute) a local legend. The legend claimed that at the beginning of the 14th century peasants from Avebury (Wiltshire, England) decided out of superstitious fear to destroy a prehistoric megalithic cult structure – something similar to the famous Stonehenge – which was located near to their village. It appears that the destruction was observed by travelling merchant or journeyman. He stood way too close and he didn’t have time to jump out of the way of the falling boulder. The death of this unfortunate, appeared to dissuade the peasants from the further destruction of the monument. So the archaeologists started digging further and indeed discovered the fragments of a giant boulder and underneath them the poor man’s skeleton. Beside him they discovered a few coins dated 1320, a whetstone and…hinged scissors! Most likely, that gawker was a travelling barber. So, the archaeologists succeeded not only in confirming the local legend, but also discovered the oldest European scissors.
Author: Marina Sobe-Panek