Egyptian New Kingdom Alabaster Kohl Jar


An Egyptian cosmetic jar in fine alabaster. It has a wide disc rim; a short neck expanding to a bulbous body; and sits on a convex base, which is slightly flattened in the centre.

Date: Circa 1500 - 1070 BC
Period: New Kingdom Period
Condition: Very fine condition; complete and intact except for professional restoration to a segment of the rim.


SKU: AS-3626 Category:

The New Kingdom Period was an especially prosperous period of Egypt’s history, and it marked the pinnacle of Egyptian power. Alabaster was a fairly precious and sought-after material, suggesting that this jar had a wealthy owner. A range of alabaster goods were produced during the New Kingdom, cosmetic jars in particular, which served to reflect the relative wealth of the era.

Jars of this kind were used to store kohl, before it was applied to the body with a glass rod or reed. Kohl comes from a lead sulphide called “galena”, which was considered to have disinfecting and fly-deterrent properties, and is found frequently prescribed for assorted eye complaints in medical papyri. The Ancient Egyptians (both men and women) wore kohl on their eyelids as protection against the glare of the sun. In addition to this practical use, outlining the eyes could also have been a way of drawing a protective amulet, such as the Wadjet Eye, right onto the skin. To make kohl, the galena was first ground up on a palette, with water or animal fat then added to create a paste. This paste would have adhered to the skin, with soot also added to produce a darker coloured kohl.

Weight 71 g
Dimensions H 4.8 cm



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