Timeline of Hair Length

Andrii Zvorygin

February 23, 2024

1 Introduction

In 1 Corinthians 11:14 Paul asks “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?” While many have not investigated and assumed the answer was yes, let us look to history to find out an answer. The general pattern across history has been that long hair is a symbol of status and power, wheras short hair is a symbol of servanthood and poverty. From pagan dieties to hebrew prophets and founders of most major religions had long hair and beards. Often when a lineage of kings would opt for shorter hair styles, their dynasty would end. Forcing short hair was done by monks, slavers and socialists. This compact history emphasizes hair not just as personal adornment but as a potent symbol of cultural values, divine preference, and individual beliefs across ages.

2 Hair Length Timeline

1. 4000-2600 BC Ancient Sumeria: Rulers are depicted with large beards, servants with bald clean shaven heads. 2. 3000 BC Ancient Egypt: Pharoah headdress emphasizes large amounts of hair and a big beard wheras shaved heads were common among slaves and servants to distinguish their lower social status. Though head shaving was also done for ritual purification by priests. 3. 2600 BC - 2334 BC Sumeria: Depiction of leaders started including bald clean shaven men. 4. 2334 - 2154 BC (Akkadian Empire) took over Sumeria

5. c. 2000 - 1800 BC (Time of Abraham) 6. c. 1500 - 1300 BC (Time of Moses) 7. 1200 - 1000 BC: Nazirite Vow in Ancient Israel: Introduced during this period as detailed in the Book of Numbers, the Nazirite vow included not cutting one’s hair as a sign of dedication to God. 8. Samson: One of the last Judges of Israel, described in the Book of Judges (chapters 13-16) in the Hebrew Bible. His long hair was a symbol of his Nazirite vow and the source of his strength. 9. 1100 - 1000 BC Samuel: A prophet and judge in ancient Israel, described in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. Samuel was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth by his mother, Hannah. “I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head” (1 Samuel 1:11). 10. 800 - 700 BC Isaiah: In Isaiah 3:16-26 Isaiah details punishments from God including making scalps bald (17,24) followed by loses in battle (25). Notably as God gave men beards, male pattern baldness should not be considered a punishment. 11. 8th-5th Century BC Greece: Homeric and Classical Periods: Short hair begins to symbolize the ideal of the civilized man in contrast to the long-haired barbarians. While most of their gods feature long hair, their god of hedonism is Dionysus clean shave with short hair and his short haired satyr minions are half man but have horns and hooves, enticing people into carnal pleasures. 12. 700 - 600 BC Jeremiah: In Jeremiah 7:29 Jeremiah instructs people rejected and abandoned by God to cut off their hair and experience God’s wrath. 13. c. 500 - 300 BC (Classical Period) 14. c. 300 BC - 200 AD (Hellenistic and Roman Periods) 15. c. 1st Century AD (Early Christian Period) 16. c. 500 - 1200 AD (Medieval Period) 17. 1054 AD East-West Schism, where shaved short haired Catholics split from long haired bearded Orthodox. Catholics start the crusades. 18. 1119 AD Catholic Council of Toulouse threatens excomunication to those who allow natural hair growth. 19. c. 1200 - 1600 AD (Renaissance) 20. Colonial Period (16th to 19th Century) 21. 20th Century AD (Rastafarianism)

The historical trajectory of hair, as detailed in scriptures like 1 Corinthians 11:14-15, where Paul discusses hair length in relation to cultural and spiritual practices, underscores not just its aesthetic value but its profound cultural, religious, and societal significance. Long hair, often celebrated across various cultures as a symbol of divine favor and authority, akin to the Nazirite vow of dedication in Numbers 6:5, contrasts sharply with the associations of short hair with notions of slavery and subjugation, reminiscent of the shaved heads of slaves in ancient times. These dichotomies underscore the power dynamics in societal perceptions of hair length and style, emphasizing the importance of personal freedom and autonomy, as seen in the freedom Christ brings (Galatians 5:1). Advocating for the liberty to choose one’s hair length and style promotes a society that values diversity, individuality, and dignity, reflecting the biblical principle of personal freedom within the community of believers.