Finding Out Egyptian Gods' Secret Using Analytical Chemistry

Printer-friendly version

Lead-based compounds were used during antiquity as both pigments and medicines in theformulation of makeup materials. Chemical analysis of cosmetics samples, found in Egyptians tombs and the reconstitution of ancient recipes as reported by Greco-Roman authors have shown that two non-natural lead chlorides (laurionite Pb(OH)Cl and phosgenite Pb2Cl2CO3) were purposely synthesized and were used as fine powders in makeup and eye lotions. According to ancient Egyptian manuscripts, these were essential remedies for treating eye illness and skin ailments.


Biomedical properties of Egyptian black makeup were revealed by amperometry at single cells. Using ultramicroelectrodes, new insights were obtained into the biochemical interactions between lead(II) ions and cells, which support the ancient medical use of sparingly soluble lead compounds.

Adresse mail du contact: 

I. Tapsoba, S. Arbault, P. Walter, C. Amatore, Anal. Chem., 82, 2010, 457-460.