Date:

Recipes of Ancient Egyptian makeup more diverse than previously thought

A new study published in the Journal Scientific Reports has revealed that the recipe for Kohl was more diverse than previously thought.

Kohl, a dark eye cosmetic has been worn traditionally since the Protodynastic Period of Egypt by Egyptian queens and noble women. Kolh was not only applied for aesthetic reasons, but also for hygienic, therapeutic, and religious functions.

- Advertisement -

It is also widely used in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa as eyeliner to contour and/or darken the eyelids and as mascara for the eyelashes. The contents of kohl and various ways to prepare it differ based on tradition and country.

Researchers analysed the contents of 11 kohl containers from the Petrie Museum in London, covering a broad range of locations and periods from Ancient Egypt.

The samples were screened using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), followed by Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS), Powder X-Ray Diffractometry (PXRD) and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). This allowed the team to characterise the inorganic and organic component materials and formulate the recipes used to produce Kohls.

The resulting data reveals that kohls were heterogeneous mixtures divided into three main groups based on the results of the FTIR analyses: (1) inorganic dominant, (2) mixed organic and inorganic, and (3) unknowns.

- Advertisement -

From an inorganic perspective, chemical analyses in the last few decades have identified a predominance of galena and other lead-based compounds in black kohls. The new study identified eight minerals previously not found in ancient kohl: biotite, paralaurionite, lizardite, talc, hematite, natroxalate, whewellite and glushinskite, in addition to silicon-based, manganese-based and carbon-based lead specimens.

The study also represents the first systematic study of organic components in kohls. It yielded six  specimens that likely consist predominantly of organic materials such as plant oils and animal-derived fat. Taxonomically distinctive ingredients identified included Pinaceae resin and beeswax. All these findings point towards more varied recipes than initially thought and significantly shift our understanding of Ancient Egyptian kohls.


Scientific Reports

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-08669-0

Header Image – Ancient Egyptian women wearing kohl, from a tomb mural in Thebes – Image Credit : Public Domain

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Archaeologists find missing head of Deva from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom

Archaeologists from Cambodia’s national heritage authority (APSARA) have discovered the long-lost missing head of a Deva statue from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom.

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.

Roman Era tomb found guarded by carved bull heads

Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Tharsa necropolis have uncovered a Roman Era tomb guarded by two carved bull heads.

Revolutionary war barracks discovered at Colonial Williamsburg

Archaeologists excavating at Colonial Williamsburg have discovered a barracks for soldiers of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence.

Pleistocene hunter-gatherers settled in Cyprus thousands of years earlier than previously thought

Archaeologists have found that Pleistocene hunter-gatherers settled in Cyprus thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Groundbreaking study reveals new insights into chosen locations of pyramids’ sites

A groundbreaking study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, has revealed why the largest concentration of pyramids in Egypt were built along a narrow desert strip.