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/ Technology News / 2009 / July 2009 / July 12, 2009|
A 2,000-year-old cream belonging to an aristocrat discovered
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Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a 2,000-year-old cream, left almost intact in the cosmetic case of an aristocratic Etruscan woman.
Washington, July 12 : Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a 2,000-year-old cream, left almost intact in the cosmetic case of an aristocratic Etruscan woman.
The lotion, which was discovered four years ago in a necropolis near the Tuscan town of Chiusi, has been revealed now, only after chemical analysis has identified the original compounds of the ancient ointment.
The archaeologists found an intact tomb-dating to the second half of the second century B.C.-sealed by a large terracotta tile.
The site featured a red-purple painted inscription with the name of the deceased: Thana Presnti Plecunia Umranalisa.
And quite near to the tomb, they found a cosmetic case, richly decorated with bone, ivory, tin and bronze elements.
The feet of the box featured bone carved in the shape of Sirens.
The case was filled with precious personal objects- a couple of bronze finger rings, a pair of tweezers, two combs and an alabaster unguentarium vessel - a vase-shaped jar - of Egyptian origins.
"The entire content of the cosmetic case was found under a clay layer which deposited throughout time. This made it possible for the ointment to survive almost intact despite (the fact that) the vessel had no cap," Discovery News quoted Erika Ribechini, a researcher at the department of chemistry and industrial chemistry of Pisa University, as saying.
The ointment, a solid, homogeneous and pale yellow mass, revealed fatty acids in high abundance.
"This is almost unique in archaeology. Even though more than 2,000 years have passed, the oxidation of the organic material has not yet been completed. This is most likely due to the sealing of the alabaster unguentarium by the clayish earth, which prevented contact with oxygen," said Ribechini.
The analysis revealed that the contents of the vessel consisted of a mixture of substances of lipids and resins.
"The natural resins were the pine resin, exudated from Pinaceae, and the mastic resin, from Anacardiaceae trees. The lipid was a vegetable oil, most likely moringa oil, which was used by the Egyptians and Greeks to produce ointments and perfumes," said Ribechini.
Moringa oil was one of the ingredients in a recipe for a perfume for ancient royalty.
Thus, the researchers believe that the lotion was imported.
The discovery has been detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.