Origin of Fragrances
Through smoke…
T.B., March 2, 2020
Perfumes/Monoi Coco Banane_M.
Perfumes/Monoi Coco Banane_M.
Before setting out on campaign the army itself was anointed with imported perfumes, while a contemporary text also refers to the young men of the city in festive attire every day with sweet oil upon their heads. Even workmen received regular supplies of ointment for anointing their heads every week: the first recorded strike in history occurred during the reign of Rameses III (1165 B.C.) when supplies of oil to the tomb builders in the Valley of the Kings were interrupted. The same king was rather more generous in his donations to the temples, however, importing incense trees and vast quantities of cinnamon, offering floral bouquets by the million and planting oliver groves to supply the temples with lamp oil.

Italian Cypress_Tom Ford
Italian Cypress_Tom Ford
The use of oils and perfumes continued down the centuries and perfume jars containing resins and oils have been found in tombs of the Late Period. The Greek poet Homer stated that Egypt was a fertile land rich in herbs; his fellow countryman Herodotus, visiting Egypt in c.450 B.C., also commented on the use of perfumes and spices when he wrote that the myrrh and cinnamon used in mummification at that time were obtained from Arabia, where it was apparently guarded by mythical creatures. A century or so later another Greek writer, Theophrastus, stated in his work Concerning odors that Egyptian perfumes were undoubtedly the best in the world, relating that one Greek perfume merchants had Egyptian perfume in his shop for eight years….and it was still in good condition, in fact better than fresh perfume!. In the 4th century B.C., the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty established their new capital at Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast. By this time many perfume ingredients, including frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, galbanum and cardamom were being imported from as far away as India and Alexandria soon became the greatest trading center of the ancient world.

The Ptolemies also continued pharaonic traditions in their lavish use of perfumes. The great temples they built to honor their adopted gods at Edfu and Dendera included perfume laboratories where the ritual perfumes and ever-increasing varieties of incense were produces, and in the perfume factories of Alexandria materials imported from Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Asia Minor and India were comb imbed with native products to produce oils and perfumes which were then exported, mainly to Rome.

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