A lip lipstick dating back 4,000 years has been found by a group of researchers in Iran: it is the oldest find of this kind ever discovered. The confirmation comes from international research carried out by a team from the University of Padua (specialised in archaeology, chemistry, mineralogy), in collaboration with archaeologists from the Faculty of Archeology of the University of Tehran (Iran). Researchers analyzed and identified the contents of a finely carved chlorite flask, radiocarbon dated to between 1900 and 1700 BC
In the study called “A Bronze Age lip-paint from southeastern Iran”, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers highlight the surprising results of their research: it is a dark red cosmetic preparation, based on hematite, manganite and braunite, mixed with waxes and vegetable oils, which, due to its specific composition, very similar to that of a modern lipstick, was probably used to color the lips.
Further proof of the profound knowledge of the craftsmen who, even several millennia ago, were able to create complex compounds, using different materials: “This discovery – underlines Massimo Vidale, of the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Padua and corresponding author of the study – adds to the results of a line of research which reveals how the artisans of ancient Iran, already 5,000-4,000 years ago, had developed very advanced knowledge on metal compounds, natural but also synthetic, which allowed the production not only of kohl ( our black pencil for the eyes), but also foundation based on lead carbonate (white lead), and eye shadows which, thanks to the addition of copper and lead chlorocarbonates, and perhaps urea, changed the color light base towards shades of blue and green”.
“The fact that the newly discovered ‘lipstick’ contains only minimal traces of lead minerals – concludes Vidale – suggests that the ‘communities of practice’ of this technology were aware of the dangers of direct ingestion of this metal. It also suggests the possibility that female makeup, in formal and ceremonial social contexts, was an important component of the public manifestation of the dominant role of an elite stratum of the population”.