Ancient Egypt and Body Care

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In no other country or culture, was the concern with beautification and body care so extensive. Their interest in beauty transcends time- it is not restricted to a specific period. Cosmetic implements, particularly eye-makeup palettes, have been discovered in the earliest graves. Yet Cleopatra VII, last of the Ptolemies, was herself credited with writing a book of beauty secrets, an art that she was universally acknowledged as mastering. Vestiges of the ancient Egyptians' concerns with beauty and body care linger even today. Modern Egyptian glass perfume vials may be as treasured and coveted today as were the carved alabaster unguent pots of distant ages. American shampoo manufacturers tout Egyptian henna and the virtues of Aloe. Every few years, eye makeup styles based on those of ancient Egypt reemerge once again in popularity. Egyptian concerns with beauty and body care transcended economic status. Although many of the artifacts that we are able to analyze today derive from the upper classes- kohl tubes bearing the names of Nefertiti and her daughters have been found, for instance- body care was considered a prerequisite for all Egyptians. Records show that sufficient body oil for daily use was one of the basic supplied issued in the form of wages paid to even the lowliest workers. Cosmetics and body care were a common daily concern cutting across all society divisions, just as they do today. Body care was no triviality, but a central part of daily - and economic- life. Egyptians used body scents and incense (for fumigation of the body and clothing and medical as well as temple use) in tremendous quantities. Most of it had to be imported. After timber, the trade in cosmetics was perhaps the chief reason for Egyptian foreign commerce. Modern interest is piqued by Egyptian funerary practices and yes, many aromatic substances were necessary for the after-life and for religious practices, yet they also held many uses for the living. Ancient Egyptian concerns with...
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