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Toxic substance found in Egyptian flask

Researchers have found a 3,500-year-old substance in an ancient Egyptian flask to be a carcinogen. It is believed it may have been used as a skin lotion to help tackle eczema.

The contents included palm and nutmeg oil, along with fatty acids of the kind that can relieve such disorders. There are known to have been cases of skin diseases in Hatshepsut’s family, the university said.

Researchers also found benzopyrene, an aromatic and highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon.

“If one imagines that the queen had a chronic skin disease and the ointment gave her short-term relief, then she may have exposed herself to a major risk over the course of a few years,” Helmut Wiedenfeld of the university’s pharmaceutical institute said in a statement.

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Story: AP | Photo: AP/DAPD, Sascha Schuermann

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