Cosmetic Flask

8. Cosmetic Flask

We know that both men and women around the ancient Mediterranean used cosmetics. One common example was kohl, which is a black eye make-up still used today as an eye liner. The glass vial seen here, with elaborately twisted handles, might have held coal. The black paste was applied with a small palette-stick. Ingredients varied, but typically included lead-based chemicals, which added the dark tone and gloss of the make-up. High levels of lead are known to be toxic, especially when ingested. However, the ingredients may have had some medicinal value when applied around the eyes, possibly providing resistance to bacterial infections, or reducing glare from the sun.

This concludes our audio tour of Mediterranean Marketplaces.  We’re happy to receive any comments or recommendations that will improve this experience for future visitors.  Thank you and enjoy the rest of your visit to the museum.