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A 4,000-year-old lipstick discovered in Iran

A small chlorite vial, discovered in the Jiroft region of Kerman province in southeastern Iran, contains a deep red cosmetic preparation that is probably a paint or coloring paste for the lips. 

Through analytical research involving XRD (X-ray diffraction), SEM-EDS (scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy) and HPLC-MS (high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry) analyses, the mineral components of the reddish substance were identified as hematite, darkened by manganite and braunite, and traces of galena and anglesite, mixed with vegetable waxes and other organic substances. 

The observed mixture resembles contemporary lipstick recipes. The results place the pigment at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

These are the findings of researchers behind the article "A Bronze Age lip-paint from southeastern Iran" published in the journal Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-024-52490-w)

According to the authors of the study published on February 1, 2024, the vial dates from between 1936 and 1687 BC, and represents one of the oldest lipstick tubes ever discovered.

The tube and its contents were recovered in 2001, when the Halil River (Kerman province) flooded ancient cemeteries in the region, dislodging artifacts from the burial grounds. They have since been kept in the Jiroft Archaeological Museum, before coming to the attention of researchers.

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