'Roman Cosmetics' Found at London Temple Dig
July 28, 2003
LONDON - Archaeologists excavating the site of a major Roman temple in London have found a sealed box containing a white cream still bearing the fingermarks of the
roman who last used it, nearly 1,900 years ago.
Museum conservator Liz Barham who opened the fist-sized cylindrical tin box for the first time Monday, in front of the world's media, described the smell from the half-full container as "sulphurous" and "cheesy."
The tin pot is about six centimetres wide and plainly decorated. It was found at the bottom of a ditch on the edge of the site of the temple next to the merging of two major roads into Roman London -- Watling Street from the port of Dover and Stane Street from the garrison town of
The discovery was unearthed in July by Pre-Construct Archaeology,
which has been digging the soccer pitch-sized area for the past year, whose
managing director, Gary Brown, looking over Ms Barham's shoulder, said:
"I'm astounded. We've been asked several times what to expect in there, but I don't
think we could have expected that it would be so full, or that it would be
some kind of cosmetic, moisturising cream or whatever it is.
"Clearly, Roman creams of any type, paint or cosmetic, do not
normally survive in the archaeological record, we don't know if it's
unique, but it's pretty exceptional."
Apart from the tin box and stone tablet, the site in modern day Southwark about two miles south of central London has also revealed pieces of statues, leather shoes and a wooden writing tablet among many other artifacts.
It will disappear under concrete this Summer when construction of a shopping and housing complex starts.
Roman London map redrawed
Daily Telegraph, January 23, 2003
Scientists Find Earliest Roman London Plaque
SunHerald, October 11, 2002