Kohl container - ROM2018_16224_22


Kohl container

Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 2055-1650 BC
Period: 11th-13th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom
5 x 4.1 cm
Object number: 909.80.161
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This pretty blue anhydrite container was used for storing the popular eye-liner, kohl. It may once have had a separate extended rim, and would have had a flat lid. This type of jar is the precursor to the more common style of kohl pot with a footed base.

Ancient Egyptian eye make-up may have had some health benefits.  Most obviously, eye-shadow might have helped to dull the glare of sharp sunlight.  The lead in galena used for black kohl may have helped to deter insect infestations of the eyes, and the copper in the malachite green eye-paint may have had some slight anti-bacterial qualities.  Whatever health benefits there may or may not have been, eye-liner and eye-shadow were popular with both sexes at all periods of Egyptian history.

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