Herodotus Returns


Egyptian eye make-up had medicinal purposes
January 9, 2010, 7:27 am
Filed under: Egypt | Tags: , , ,

A new study shows that the extravagant eye make-up worn by ancient Egyptians had medicinal purposes.

The study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, suggests it helped to protect against eye disease.

The key appears to be lead salts contained in the make-up.

At very low levels, salts produce nitric oxide, which boosts the immune system to fight off bacteria which can cause eye infection.

The make-up used by the ancient Egyptians to darken and enhance the eyes sometimes took up to a month to concoct.

In theory, because it contained lead it might actually have posed a risk to health.

But an analysis by scientists from the Louvre Museum and the CNRS research institute found that in very low doses lead could actually have a positive effect.

Lead researcher Philippe Walter said: “We knew ancients Greeks and Romans too had noted the make-up had medicinal properties, but wanted to determine exactly how.”

More on the recent eye make-up study.

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