First Century "Roman Cosmetics" Found in London Archaeological Dig

Archaeologists working at the site of a Roman temple in London, dating back to AD 50, have found a sealed tin box containing a white cream, thought to be face cream or face paint. "We are in completely uncharted territory here," said Francis Grew, curator of the Museum of London. "Not only is the quality of workmanship of the box exceptional, but to find one in such good condition still sealed and with its original contents will raise huge interest around the world."

The box was found at the bottom of a ditch next to a major crossroad into Roman-era London, near what is now Watling Street and Stane Street in Southwark, about two miles south of central London.

When Liz Barham, a conservator for the Museum of London, opened the box for the first time on Monday, she desscribed the smell from the half-full container as "sulphurous" and "cheesy." The substance will be chemically analyzed.

The archaeological dig site, which has yielded a stone tablet with the earliest known inscription bearing the Roman name of London, as well as pieces of statues, leather shoes, and a wooden writing tablet, will be covered in concrete later this year when the construction of a shopping and housing complex begins.