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 Catalogue : Stone and Marble:Egyptian
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Catalog:Stone and Marble:Egyptian: stock #1292212

New Kingdom, c. 1550-1077 BCE

Made of soft limestone, the five drilled tubes that make up the majority of this piece would have originally held the eye makeup so important to ancient hygiene. A flat lid would have also originally been attached via a small metal pin placed in the hole on top of the vessel between two of the tubes, thus protecting the ointment from any contamination while not in use.

A rare example in fine condition with natural patina present.

7.3 x 5.7 cm (2.87 x 2.24 inches)

Worldwide Shipping and Certificate of Authenticity Included in Price.

Export Approval from the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Sparks, Rachel, “Egyptian Stone Vessels in Syro-Palestine During the Second Millennium B.C. And Their Impact on the Local Stone Vessel Industry” in Abr-Nahrain Supplement 5, Ed. Guy Bunnens (Melbourne: 1995), 51-66.

Dayagi-Mendels, Michal, “Perfumes and Cosmetics in the Ancient World” (Jerusalem: 1993)


While today we wear eye makeup for its aesthetic qualities alone in the ancient world it served a much more important and necessary purpose. Due to its black color, the eyeliner, produced from a mixture of the mineral galena and a binding agent, served to reflect glare from the sun away from the Egyptian's eyes. It also served as a deterrent to insects and pathogens which resulted in eye disease due to its lead content.

So ubiquitous and necessary was the use of eye makeup in the ancient Mediterranean that the accouterments for the practice are mentioned in the Mishnah: “Sheath for the brush and receptacle for the eye paint” (Kelim, 16:8). Even in the Bible where the use of eye makeup is largely otherised, we find that the name of one of Job's daughters is Keren Happukh, literally “horn of eye-paint”.

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