Yeah, I didn’t expect Mesopotamia to come up in my research of historical hair removal either. Anyone who has heard of the nations that made up that empire (Assyria, Babylon, Ancient Persia etc.) will recognize their epic beards. But apparently before those beards became the height of fashion, the people of early Mesopotamia went clean shaven and bald like the Egyptians, and for similar reasons.
Hairstyles (or lack thereof) were important for identifying slaves and captives. Slaves of a certain household often had some sort of marking--something that could be removed with a razor, because one ancient text does threaten that if a barber willingly removes the distinctive hairstyle of a runaway slave, his hand must be cut off. I also saw a few mentions of being shaved as part of their medical treatment or for a religious ritual.
But all my reading tends to contradict whether hairlessness stayed popular with anyone but slaves or eunuchs when the men depicted in reliefs and statues began to show evidence of adopting oils and curling tongs. Perhaps the two styles cohabited peacefully, but obviously it was not fashionable for long hair to get too out of control. Even in the Bible book of Daniel, part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s temporary madness was described as letting his hair grow “long like eagle’s feathers.”
Many sites mention the finding of clamshell tweezers in a Mesopotamian archeological site, as well as bronze and perhaps obsidian razors. Other sites quote some mysterious record of kings commanding maidens to be brought to him with their bodies hairless. But could that be fashion or an individual affectation, considering how in another text, young brides took pride in body hair as a symbol of sexual maturity? It’s been very hard to find out with certainty who removed their hair and why. Modern aesthetics force us to assume automatically, but can we try to fit those ideas on life thousands of years ago?
I did find something interesting in Mesopotamian mythology, however, regarding the goddess of both love and war, Inanna (or Ishtar). Aside from her ominous story and the prostitution involved in her worship, she is said to have the ability to change a man into a woman and vice versa, a kind of benefactress for those with biological gender “abnormalities”. It seems that in this area of the world, people born with intersex conditions were to some degree accepted in ancient times, or at least attempted to be explained through mythology.