Roman Cosmetic Set




Mark Hoyle

Our recent excavations in a Roman town in North Yorkhire have revealed substantial remains of urban life in the north, which we are currently working on bringing together in our ongoing analysis of the work.

The object in the picture is a ‘cosmetic set’, a collection of tools used to modify the body. This one consists of three different tools held together with a pin and attached to a loop. The pair of tweezers is probably the most recognisable tool, which would have been used for removing hair. It’s not really clear what the other two tools were used for and each could have been used to accomplish different tasks. The paddle-like tool is called an ‘ear scoop’, which could have been used for cleaning out the ear or measuring out cosmetics. The other tool resembles a modern cuticle trimming tool. Some cosmetic sets include additional tools and are grouped together with ornate enamel decorated plaques, while other tools are found individually and not part of a set. There is evidence that both Roman men and women used cosmetic tools.

Our expert illustrator Mark recently completed an amazing drawing of this spectacular object and commented:

'It's been an absolute pleasure to have been able to study and illustrate.

The images are very informal, masking tape and pens visible, no scale bar just to show the "work-in-progress" side of illustration.'


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