Archeologists in Turkey have unearthed cosmetics and jewelry that are thousands of years old — and some of the objects are still intact.
The find was uncovered within the remains of a 2,000-year-old marketplace east of the well-preserved Temple of Zeus in Anatolia, a site of intense excavation since its rediscovery in 1998.
The archeologists uncovered 10 different hues of ancient Roman makeup pigments, mostly shades of red and pink, as well as jewelry, perfume bottles and other cosmetic antiquities.
The dig’s lead archeologist, Professor Gökhan Coşkun of Dumlupinar University, said the old Roman makeup is ‘similar to blush and eyeshadow used today.’
But the makeup was just one product on offer at what Coşkun has determined was a dedicated cosmetics shop at this classical period agora (marketplace).
Archeologists in Turkey have unearthed cosmetics and jewelry that are thousands of years old, in the remains of a 2,000-year-old marketplace east of the Temple of Zeus in Anatolia. The find includes 10 different hues of ancient Roman makeup pigment, mostly shades of red and pink
Items uncovered also included jewelry, perfume bottles and other cosmetic antiquities. Above, archeologists unearth a fountain-like Roman structure at the same ancient dig site
The ancient beauty shop, which the archeologists described as now ‘completely uncovered,’ included ‘various beads belonging to products such as hairpins and necklaces’ (above)
‘During the excavation here, we encountered a large number of perfume bottles,’ Coşkun said.
‘In addition to these, there are jewelry items.’
As he told the state-run Turkish news agency Anadolu Ajansı, the jewelry included ‘various beads belonging to products such as hairpins and necklaces used by women’ at the shop, which he described as now ‘completely uncovered.’
While Coşkun noted not all the finds were in a ‘very well-preserved state,’ with some remaining only as fragments ‘found in 1 or 2-millimeter (0.04-inch) pieces,’ some still might fetch a good price today.
‘We also found well-preserved pieces during the excavation,’ Coşkun said.
Coşkun, who is also the chair of classical archaeology at the university, told the news agency makeup during Greco-Roman times, including eyeshadow and blush, was often stored inside oyster shells, like an organic and Mediterranean compact.
‘We also encountered a large number of oyster shells in the shop we excavated,’ the archeologist said.
The site’s lead archeologist Gökhan Coşkun, the chair of classical archaeology at Dumlupinar University, told reporters that makeup during Greco-Roman times, including eyeshadow and blush, was often stored inside oyster shells (above), like an organic, Mediterranean compact
While Coşkun noted not all the finds were in a ‘very well-preserved state,’ with some remaining only as fragments ‘found in 1 or 2-millimeter (0.04-inch) pieces,’ some still might fetch a good price today. Coşkun said that some ‘well-preserved pieces’ were found during the excavation
Turkish archeologists have been carefully working at the ancient site since 2011, taking over for the German Archeology Institute, whose own work dating back to 1970 uncovered a theater, five bridges and two public baths, among other structures.
In 2012, a Turkish delegation to the United Nations nominated the Temple of Zeus — and the entire surrounding Aizanoi Antique City — to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List for consideration as a preserved historic site.
‘This is a very important city in terms of religion,’ as archeologist Görkem Kökdemir from Ankara University told the Anadolu Ajansı news agency.
‘We can call it the city of ‘gods and goddesses.”
In 2012, a Turkish delegation to the UN nominated the Temple of Zeus (above) and the surrounding Aizanoi Antique City to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List to be considered a preserved historic site. The site was first rediscovered in 1824, then lost again
The city was captured by the Romans in 133 BCE and is believed to have hit its true heyday in the second and third centuries AD CE. Above, an ‘acroterion,’ or architectural ornament, in front of the Temple of Zeus. Archeologists call Aizanoi ‘the city of ‘gods and goddesses’
‘This has been revealed by the works carried out so far,’ Kökdemir elaborated to the news service, speaking upon discovery of the entrance gate to the Temple of Zeus in September 2021.
‘Special sanctuaries were built here for many gods and goddesses,’ he said.
Located about 35 miles from the modern-day city center of Kutahya, the antique city of Aizanoi’s Temple of Zeus was first rediscovered in 1824 by European travelers and then partially excavated by German archaeologist Karl Humann in the early 1890s.
But the entire ancient metropolis was soon abandoned and lost again for decades.
Modern-day excavations across the site suggest multiple levels of settlements, dating as far back as 3000 BCE, including the 2,300-year-old Temple of Zeus in what was previously the Greek city of Magnesia.
The city was captured by the Roman Empire in 133 BCE and is believed to have hit its true heyday in the second and third centuries AD CE.
While Turkish archeologists have not previously found many Classical period beauty projects on the site, they have identified several locations Roman citizens may have wanted to glam up for: a stadium, a trading building, several necropolises and ‘the sacred cave of Metre Steune.’
Anadolu Ajansı describes the cave as ‘a cultist site thought to be used before the first century BC.’
‘In ancient cities, people worship not just one deity, they worship multiple gods or goddesses,’ according to Kökdemir.
‘In Magnesia, the first deity is Artemis, and the second deity is Zeus.
‘It is very significant, it is the second important cult [of Magnesia].’
Since 2021, the leadership of the excavation project has reportedly been transferred to the authority of the Kutahya Museum Directorate.