Biblical Archaeology Review 30:1, January/February 2004

Strata: What Is It?


Small hoes for weeding a garden plot


Meat hooks from a butcher’s shop


Set of body scrapers


Hooks for hanging garments


Set of body scrapers

This set of three bronze body scrapers, or strigils, hanging from a ring was found in Yavne (ancient Jamnia/Jabneel) in central Israel and dates to the Roman period. The strigil was a cosmetic tool that originated among Greek athletes, probably during the Archaic period (c. 800–500 B.C.). These athletes prepared for training sessions (always done in the nude) by rubbing themselves with oil, which kept the skin supple and prevented abrasions. Wrestlers applied a fine layer of sand on top of the oil so that they would be able to keep a grip on opponents. When they had finished their workout, the athletes used a strigil to scrape the accumulated oil, sweat and dirt from their skin. The Romans, for whom bathing (typically at public bath complexes) was an important part of daily life, adopted the strigil as a bath accessory for men and women.

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