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Stations of a fragrance journey – Egypt

By Nicolas Frank

If you search for traces, you will find that the perfume originates from religious rituals. By slowly burning herbs or woods, fragrant smoke was created. Now some of you may be thinking directly of a visit to a cathedral, and it’s already the incense beading your noses. But the Christians were not the first to fog their sacred spaces with incense. The first mentions about fragrance meet us in ancient Egypt.

At the time of the pyramids, probably earlier, resins, flowers and everything that created a pleasant scent were burned in honor of the deities. This tradition spread through the trade routes also up to the Romans. Of course, the valuable substances were reserved for the gods, but (of course!) there was one that discovered the enjoyment of them early on – Cleopatra.

There are many myths surrounding Cleopatra. Legend has it that she was beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful woman the Earth has ever seen. Then again it is speculated that it was not her appearance that brought her opponents to their knees, but their incomparable love skills. But you’ve probably heard all this before I told you about it. Certainly also of the fact that she bathed her body in gallons of precious milk. But milk alone has not brought her into the top ten of the divine seductresses. They were alsoprecious fragrance ointmentswith which she nurtured herself. And that was the birth of perfume as a cosmetic product… Well, yes… perhaps not exclusively. But the idea that this impressive woman has played her part in perfume culture is a very beautiful one.

For some time now, science has been trying to revive the scent of Cleopatra. By multiple mentions in various traditions, it is now assumed that it is afarsenoma. It seems that Israeli researchers have indeed succeeded, but there can be no question of a resurgent, because the result was apparently very disappointing. Is the once legendary fragrance simply no longer attractive to today’s noses, or should the researchers reassure themselves that they do not have trained noses and leave the field to the professionals?

Perhaps we will find out more about it at some point. I remain curious and hope you stay.

Until next time

Your Tatjana