Investigation of white pigments used as make-up during the Greco-Roman period
Different white pigments were used during antiquity to prepare white make-up for women faces. Combining observations and elemental analysis with structural information, we were able to determine the mineralogical composition of cosmetics, the trace element content and the microstructure of the crystals. SEM/EDX analyses enabled us to describe the choice of materials and their preparation by grinding or chemical synthesis to obtain white pigments.
For the Hellenistic period, we have mainly found lead white, which required an elaborated synthesis process. Quantitative X-ray diffraction allowed us to establish different ratios of hydrocerussite 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2 and cerussite PbCO3. These data can be linked to the chemical conditions of preparation described by ancient authors. On the other hand, analyses of Roman cosmetics from Pompeii, Gaul and Germany show the use of materials commonly found in nature like gypsum or calcite. We will discuss the material properties in relation with the make-up uses.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 2.H. Le Bonniec, Pline l’Ancien, Histoire naturelle, livre XXXIV (Les Belles Lettres, Paris, France, 1983)Google Scholar
- 3.J.M. Croisille, Pline l’Ancien, Histoire naturelle, XXXV (Les Belles Lettres, Paris, France, 1985)Google Scholar
- 7.J. Rodriguez-Carjaval, Abst. Satellite Meeting on Powder diffraction of the XVth IUCR Congress (1990) p. 127Google Scholar
- 8.G. Dupuis, M. Elias, L. Simonot, Appl. Spectrosc. 56, 1329, (2002)Google Scholar
- 9.P. Martinetto, M. Anne, E. Dooryhée, P. Walter, G. Tsoucaris, Acta Cryst. C58, 182 (2002)Google Scholar
- 11.B. Grillet, Les femmes et les fards dans l’antiquité grecque (1975)Google Scholar
- 12.Nonnos, Dionys. XXVII, p. 229Google Scholar