Bronze kohl stick, Egypt, 1575-1194BCE

1575-1194 BCE in Egypt
Bronze kohl stick, Egyptian, 1575BC-1194BC

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Bronze kohl stick, Egyptian, 1575BC-1194BC
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Bronze kohl stick, Egyptian, 1575BC-1194BC

The Egyptians wore kohl around the eyes as a cosmetic. It not only gave the wearer a beautiful appearance but was believed to have medicinal as well as religious purposes. Kohl is made from galena, a lead-containing ore. It appears to have been a deterrent against insects that irritate the eyes. Its dark colour also protected against the sun. However, lead is a toxic substance with repeated exposure.

Horus is a major Egyptian god. The eye of Horus is common in Ancient Egyptian imagery. Wearers of this symbol believed it protected them. Some historians believe Egyptians thought outlining their eyes carried the protection of the gods with them.


Classical & Medieval Medicine
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
complete and bronze (copper, tin alloy)
overall: 6 mm x 113 mm x 5 mm, .012 kg
cosmetic applicator