The world’s oldest cosmetic face cream has been found by archaeologists by excavating a Roman Temple on the banks of river Thames and what leaves one perplexed is that the cream still has the finger marks of its last user, 2000 years back!! The cream is contained in a 5cm by 6cm tightly sealed cylindrical tin can, which seemingly was deliberately hidden and was found at the bottom of a sealed ditch in Southwark, about 2 (two) miles south of central London.
The site lies on the point where three roads namely Walting St from Dover, Saint St from Chichester and bridgehead road over Thames meet. This ancient site bears the foundations of two Roman-Celtic temples, a guest house, an outdoor area suitable for mass worship, plinths for statues and a stone pillar.
This complex has been a store of discoveries. Last year, it revealed a stone tablet with the earliest known inscription bearing the Roman name of London. Known to be the first religious complex in London, it unfolds the rare evidence of organized religion in London 2000 years back.
Since the excavation is now at the stage of completion, this site will be used as a housing complex.
Nansi Rosenberg, a senior archaeological consultant of the project feels lucky to have a marshy site in London where the contents of this sealed box must have been retained and the metal preserved from corroding. Though, they are still not sure whether the cream was medicinal, cosmetic or entirely ritualistic. She even adds that the discoveries have just begun and there are more to be made as they piece together the jigsaw puzzle they have excavated.
Talking about the latest discovery, Opened at the Museum of London, this tin can revealed a pungent smelling white-cream. According to Liz Barham, whoever used this ointment last has applied it to something with their fingers and has used the lid as a dish to take the ointment out. The cream is currently undergoing scientific analysis and guesses are that it must have been used as a beauty treatment or even face paint in temple ritual.
Federico Nappo, an expert on ancient Roman cosmetics of Pompeii calls it an extraordinary discovery. He assumes that it is likely for the cream to contain animal fats as Romans used to use donkey’s milk for skin treatment. Yet he believes that it should not be tough to find out the cream’s composition.
[sources: abc.net.au, medicalnewstoda.com, livescience.com]