05 Nov 2004 Ancient Cosmetics
This BBC article describes the discovery of an ancient Roman tin of cosmetic cream, and expresses appreciation for the complicated recipe the Romans used. (The tin was found in an archeological excavation in London inhabited by the Romans during the Roman occupation of Britain.)
It is interesting that a culture that didn’t use soap, and washed clothes in urine, would go to such effort to create cosmetics.
The European preference for cosmetics over soap apparently started early.
The London Telegraph had a funny comment about this:
[Analysis of the cream] shows that British [read: Roman] women led the way when it came to “green” cosmetics: the cream relied on tin oxide as a whitener, a much healthier and more environmentally sound alternative to the toxic lead acetate used by their high society peers in Rome.
Healthier, yes. But do we really believe that the ancient Romans, who held slaves and murdered people as a form of organized sport, cared about the environmental impact of their cosmetics?