The Italian Almanac


Italian News - August 29

As well as savouring an array of artistic and architectural delights, visitors to Siena can now learn how to make the cosmetics of the Pharaohs. The Tuscan city's Santa Maria della Scala complex is holding workshops on preparing ancient Egyptian make-up, skin creams and beauty potions. The initiative is accompanying an exhibition at the complex entitled 'Igiene e bellezza nell' antico Egitto' (Hygiene and Beauty in Ancient Egypt).

"Oils, perfumes and beauty products were used daily in ancient Egypt for aesthetic and hygienic reasons, but also to protect people from the sun, sand and wind," organizers said. "These products played a part in their rituals too. Using oils and taking care of the body was considered a way of making oneself shine and come close to divine beauty".

Visitors will learn how the Egyptians combined products like henna, honey, lotus flower, cinnamon, sea salt and mud to make their beauty products. One of the show's sections focuses on hair-care, styles and dyes, and how the Egyptians treated dead bodies for funeral ceremonies. The workshops, which take place every Thursday, are based on the results of research on ancient texts and archaeological evidence.

The exhibition, which runs until September 17, features some 70 finds loaned from Florence's National Archaeological Museum. These include mirrors, make-up palettes, mortar-and-pestle sets, jewellery and funeral masks.