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The chemical composition of traditional eye cosmetics in Syria

ANDREW D. HARDY1*, GAVYN ROLLINSON2, RAGINI VAISHNAV3
*Corresponding author
1. University of Exeter, Centre for Medical History, College of Humanities, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, Devon, United Kingdom
2. University of Exeter in Cornwall, Camborne School of Mines, College of Engineering
Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Tremough Campus, Penryn, TR10 9EZ, Cornwall, United Kingdom
3. Sultan Qaboos University, College of Medicine, Box 35, Al-Khod, 123, Sultanate of Oman

Abstract

This study was undertaken in order to determinethe chemical composition of potentially lead-toxictraditional eye cosmetics (“kohls”) available in Syria(Damascus and Aleppo). A total of 18 kohl samples wereobtained: 14 in the main souk of Damascus and 4 in the oldsouk of Aleppo. The techniques of X-ray powder diffraction(XRPD) and low vacuum scanning electron microscopy(LVSEM) were used to analyse the samples. Overall, for the18 samples, it was found that 10 (56 percent) contained alead compound (galena, PbS) as the main component;with a further 5 samples having it present as a minorcomponent. The other main components were found to beone of the following: calcite (5) (CaCO3), sassolite (2)(H3BO3) and goethite (1) (FeO(OH)).