Were Face Coverings Used in Ancient Times?


Face coverings have become a common sight in recent times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the use of face coverings is not a new concept. In fact, the practice of covering one’s face dates back to ancient times.

Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians are known for their elaborate burial rituals, which included the use of masks. These masks were made of wood, clay or linen and were placed over the faces of mummies to help them in their journey to the afterlife. The masks were often designed to resemble the deceased person or a particular god or goddess.

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks also used face coverings for various purposes. In theater, actors wore masks to portray different characters and emotions.

These masks were made of materials like leather or linen and were highly decorated with colors and patterns. They were designed to exaggerate certain features like facial expressions and emotions.

The Plague Doctor Mask

In medieval Europe, physicians wore masks that resembled bird beaks during outbreaks of the bubonic plague. These masks, known as “plague doctor masks,” had a long beak-like nose that was filled with herbs and spices thought to filter out harmful air-borne particles.


Face coverings have been used for various reasons throughout history, including ritualistic practices, performance art, and medical purposes. While some aspects of these ancient practices may seem unusual or even bizarre by today’s standards, they demonstrate how humans have always sought ways to protect themselves from harm.