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From Past to Present: Natural Cosmetics Unwrapped - 15/02/2018, London (England)


For thousands of years, cosmetic products have been made with a range of minerals and organic substances. With the development of long distance commercial routes, the diversity of cosmetics increased drastically during antiquity. In the last few centuries, many such cosmetics have been produced, marketed, and distributed by the cosmetic industry with classical influences. For example, the recipes of medical writers such as Hippocrates and Galen were sources of inspiration. Mythological and historical figures such as Hygieia and Cleopatra also appeared prominently on the packaging and advertising. Today, some cosmetics are still produced exclusively with natural substances and their advertisements sometimes refer to ancient times. This conference will offer an opportunity to approach cosmetics from an interdisciplinary perspective, incorporating elements from the disciplines of classics, ancient history, archaeology, bioarchaeology, pharmacy and pharmacology.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 15/02/2018

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Royal Pharmaceutical Society (London, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: The University of Oxford; the University of Glasgow; Keele University. With the support of the Art and Humanities Research Council (Science in Culture).

INFO: web -


-Estándar/standard/standard: £35

- Estudiantes, jubilados y desempleados/ students retirees and unwaged/studenti, pensionati e disoccupati: £20

The registration fee includes light lunch, wine reception after the conference and possibility to view the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum displays including our special exhibition on ancient cosmetics.


9:00–9:30 Registration 9:30–11:10 Session 1: Literary, documentary and archaeological evidence for cosmetics in ancient and historical periods • Francisco B. Gomes, University of Lisbon: ‘Mediterranean unguents and perfumes in the Western Iberian Iron Age: current data and challenges for future research’ • Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Cardiff University: ‘Beautiful to behold is the king’: Cosmetics and the Masculine Ideal in the Ancient Near East’ • Mira Cohen Starkman, Wingate Institute: ‘Cosmetics recipes from the Bible, Talmud and Medical Literature in Ladino’ • Kathleen Walker-Meikle, Kings College London: ‘Wrinkles and recipes: Hieronymus Mercurialis on beautifying skin’ 11:10–11:30 Coffee break 11:30–12:45 Session 2: Scientific analysis and experimental reconstruction of ancient and historical cosmetics • Josefina Perez-Arantegui, University of Zaragoza: ‘Characterisation of contents in archaeological objects to highlight ancient cosmetic preparations by a multi-analytical approach’ • Maria Cristina Gamberini, University of Modena: ‘Red pigments for Phoenicians and experimental reconstruction for ancient ointments’ • Effie Photos-Jones, University of Glasgow: ‘The colour white (and off-white): cosmetics or medicines in female burials (8th-4th c BC), Attica Greece’ 12:45–14:00 Lunch break 14:00–15:50 Session 3: Reception of ancient cosmetics in later historical periods and in the contemporary world • Judith Wright, Boots: ‘The Art of Feeling Natural’ • Peter Homan, British Society for the History of Pharmacy: ‘Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: remedies for baldness’ • Anisha Gupta, Kings College London: ‘Brush, Spit, Rinse: Oral Hygiene Throughout History’ • Julie Wakefield, Independent scholar: ‘Beautifying the Complexion: Dioscorides and the Early Modern Herbalists’ 15:50–16:10 Coffee break 16:10–17:00 Guest Lecture by James Wong, expert in ethnobotany 17:00–19:00 Wine reception

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