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Egyptian Perfume Bottle

Egyptian Perfume Bottle



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What Perfumes Did Ancient Egyptians Use? Researchers Aim To Recreate 3,500-year-old Scent

The Ancient Egyptians cherished their fragrant scents, too, as perfume flacons from this period indicate. In its permanent exhibition, Bonn University's Egyptian Museum has a particularly well preserved example on display. Screening this 3,500-year-old flacon with a computer tomograph, scientists at the university detected the desiccated residues of a fluid, which they now want to submit to further analysis. They might even succeed in reconstructing this scent.

Pharaoh Hatshepsut was a power-conscious woman who assumed the reins of government in Egypt around the year 1479 B.C. In actual fact, she was only supposed to represent her step-son Thutmose III, who was three years old at the time, until he was old enough to take over.

But the interregnum lasted 20 years. "She systematically kept Thutmose out of power," says Michael Höveler-Müller, the curator of Bonn University's Egyptian Museum.

Hatshepsut's perfume is also presumably a demonstration of her power. "We think it probable that one constituent was frankincense &ndash the scent of the gods," Michael Höveler-Müller declares. This idea is not so wide of the mark, as it is a known fact that in the course of her regency Haptshepsut undertook an expedition to Punt &ndash the modern Eritrea, and the Egyptians had been importing precious goods such as ebony, ivory, gold, and just this frankincense, from there since the third millennium B.C. Apparently the expedition brought back whole frankincense plants, which Hatshepsut then had planted in the vicinity of her funerary temple.

The filigree flacon now under examination by the researchers in Bonn bears an inscription with the name of the Pharaoh. Hence it was probably once in her possession. The vessel is exceptionally well preserved. "So we considered it might be rewarding to have it screened in the University Clinic´s Radiology Department," Höveler-Müller explains. "As far as I know this has never been done before."

This world premier will now in all probability be followed by another one: "The desiccated residues of a fluid can be clearly discerned in the x-ray photographs," the museum´s curator explains. "Our pharmacologists are now going to analyse this sediment." The results could be available in a good year´s time. If they are successful, the scientists in Bonn are even hoping to "reconstruct" the perfume so that, 3,500 years after the death of the woman amongst whose possessions it was found, the scent could then be revitalised.

Hatshepsut died in 1457 B.C. Analysis of the mummy ascribed to her showed that the ruler was apparently between 45 and 60 years of age at the end of her life that she was also overweight, and suffering from diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis. Obviously for reasons of security, she was laid to rest in the tomb of her wet nurse. In 1903, over 3,300 years later, the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter stumbled upon the two mummies.

However, more than 100 years were to pass before the Pharaoh´s corpse could be identified using DNA and dental analysis in the year 2007. Thutmose III, incidentally, appears not to have shed a single tear for his step-mother, as during his reign he had every image destroyed which showed her as ruler, and which could have belonged to her.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Bonn. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Perfume in Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians loved beautiful fragrances. They associated them with the gods and recognised their positive effect on health and well being. Perfumes were generally applied as oil-based salves, and there are numerous recipes and depictions of the preparation of perfume in temples all over Egypt.

The god of perfume, Nefertum, was also a god of healing who was said to have eased the suffering of the aging sun god Re with a bouquet of sacred lotus. He could be described as the world’s first aromatherapist!

Egypt was the world leader in the creation of perfume and was closely associated with the international perfume trade. When Julius Caesar took control of Egypt, he demonstrated this fact to the Roman people by throwing bottles of precious perfume to the crowd during his triumphant return to Rome.

The most highly prized perfumes of the ancient world came from Egypt. Of these, arguably the most popular were Susinum (a perfume based on lily, myrrh, cinnamon), Cyprinum (based upon henna, cardamom, cinnamon, myrrh, and southernwood), and Mendesian (myrrh and cassia with assorted gums and resins). Mendesian was named after the ancient city of Mendes, and although the perfume was produced in other locations at a later date, the best variety was still thought to be that from Mendes.

They also loved Stakte, a perfume with a fairly strong aroma of myrrh, Rhondinium (based on the highly popular scent of rose), and a scent simply known as “the Egyptian” which seems to have been based on cinnamon and myrrh with sweet wine.

Perfumes were generally stored in beautiful alabaster bottles, but there is also some evidence that blue glass bottles may have been used at times.


Perfume bottle

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Perfume bottle, a vessel made to hold scent. The earliest example is Egyptian and dates to around 1000 bc . The Egyptians used scents lavishly, especially in religious rites as a result, when they invented glass, it was largely used for perfume vessels. The fashion for perfume spread to Greece, where containers, most often terra-cotta or glass, were made in a variety of shapes and forms such as sandalled feet, birds, animals, and human heads. The Romans, who thought perfumes were aphrodisiacs, used not only molded glass bottles but also blown glass, after its invention at the end of the 1st century bc by Syrian glassmakers. The fashion for perfume declined somewhat with the beginning of Christianity, coinciding with the deterioration of glassmaking.

By the 12th century Philippe-Auguste of France had passed a statute forming the first guild of parfumeurs, and by the 13th century Venetian glassmaking had become well established. In the 16th, 17th, and particularly the 18th centuries, the scent bottle assumed varied and elaborate forms: they were made in gold, silver, copper, glass, porcelain, enamel, or any combination of these materials 18th-century porcelain perfume bottles were shaped like cats, birds, clowns, and the like and the varied subject matter of painted enamel bottles included pastoral scenes, chinoiseries, fruits, and flowers.

By the 19th century classical designs, such as those created by the English pottery ware maker Josiah Wedgwood, came into fashion but the crafts connected with perfume bottles had deteriorated. In the 1920s, however, René Lalique, a leading French jeweller, revived interest in the bottles with his production of molded glass examples, characterized by iced surfaces and elaborate relief patterns.


Egyptian Perfume bottles

For centuries, handmade Egyptian glass has been prized all over the world. Today, at CraftsOfEgypt, we still make gorgeous glass bottles the ancient, traditional way - mouth-blowing & hand-finishing every piece to create a unique work of art. At the same time, we finetune our classic designs for modern tastes & needs. The result is a fusion of old and new: exotic fairytale beauty straight out of the Arabian Nights. finished with up-to-date details.

Exquisite Heirloom Quality

Forget mass-produced imitations. Our handcrafted bottles:

*Look like the bottles you see in our product pictures - same fanciful shapes & designs

*Glow with rich, luminous colors that will never wear off
*Comes with a matching glass applicator tops, so you can easily apply perfume, cologne & essential oils
*Ship safely in strong, secure packaging to prevent breakage

All at an affordable price and backed by our full guarantee, so you can order these collectible keepsakes with total confidence.

Countless Uses, Both Decorative & Practical

Fill these beautiful bottles with your favorite perfume. Use them for pills, essential oils, aromatherapy. Or simply display them on a coffee table or knick-knack shelf. They're perfect for gift-giving, too, so add to cart now. for yourself and all the connoisseurs you know.


Cleopatra May Have Once Smelled Like This Recreated Perfume

Cleopatra VII, the last ruler of Egypt before the Romans took power, has been described as both beautiful and not so beautiful in ancient histories. The coins and busts produced of her seem to be a mixed bag as well. But while we may never really know what she looked like, archaeologists may have figured out what she smelled like. That’s right—a team of experts recently re-created ancient Egypt’s most sought after perfumes, which may have been worn by the tragic monarch.

The idea of recreating Eau de Ancient Egypt was dreamed up by Robert Littman and Jay Silverstein of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. For years, the archaeologists headed digs at a site called Tell-El Timai, which in ancient times was known as the city of Thmuis. It was also home to two of the most well-known perfumes in the ancient world, Mendesian and Metopian. “This was the Chanel No. 5 of ancient Egypt,” Littman puts it in an interview with Sabrina Imbler at Atlas Obscura.

Back in 2012, the archaeologists uncovered what was believed to be the home of a perfume merchant, which included an area for manufacturing some sort of liquid as well as amphora and glass bottles with residue in them.

While the bottles did not smell, chemical analysis of the sludge did reveal some of the ingredients. The researchers took their findings to two experts on Egyptian perfume, Dora Goldsmith and Sean Coughlin, who helped to recreate the scents following formulas found in ancient Greek texts.

The basis of both of the recreated scents is myrrh, a resin extracted from a thorny tree native to the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula. Ingredients including cardamom, olive oil and cinnamon were added to produce the ancient perfumes, which were, in general, much thicker and stickier than the stuff we spritz on today. In turn, the perfumes produced strong, spicy, faintly musky scents that tended to linger longer than modern fragrances.

“What a thrill it is to smell a perfume that no one has smelled for 2,000 years and one which Cleopatra might have worn,” Littman says in a university press release.

Perfumer Mandy Aftel, who in 2005 helped reproduce a perfume used to scent a child mummy based on scrapings from a death mask, says it's up in the air whether Cleopatra really would have worn the same scent. It’s believed she had her own perfume factory and created signature scents instead of wearing what would be the relative equivalent of putting on a store-bought brand. In fact, there’s even a legend floating around claiming that she doused the sails of her royal ship in so much scent that Marc Antony could smell her coming all the way on shore when she visited him at Tarsus.

Even if Cleopatra didn’t wear the stuff, it’s likely the elite in the ancient world did wear something that smells similar to the recreated perfumes. Currently, we mere peasants can get a whiff of the ancient scents at the National Geographic Society’s “Queens of Egypt” exhibit, running through mid-September.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.


PERFUME BOTTLES: The Evolution of Scent and Its Containers

The Perfume Maker by Rudolf Ernst - photo by Wikimedia Commons

These famous words, supposedly written by Napoleon to his flirtatious wife, both warned her of his coming – and also suggests that he likes her own unique smell.

And maybe you yourself have experienced a sense of déjà vu when you have noticed a certain odour, taking you back to a particular past experience?

Why Our Sense of Smell is so Important

Butterfly pin and heart-form perfume bottle, 1977 and 1994, Orient & Flume
and Zellique, DuMouchelles – photo by Invaluable.com | Lot 1113

Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than each of our other senses. The chemical molecules of the scent, unlike the other senses, connect directly to the brain through sensors beneath the mucous in our noses. They can detect thousands of different senses. And the connections from these sensors go directly to our most primitive brain centres – responsible for emotions, memories and life-preserving behaviours.

It is said you can smell fear.

And we all know how dogs like to sniff – and sometimes – alas – to roll, thus camouflaging their own smell and affording them some protection from possible predators.

Where the Early Perfumes were Found

In 2004, an Italian archaeologist discovered the oldest known perfume factory in Cyprus. Here, they were manufacturing perfume on an industrial scale 4,000 years ago.

Ornate alabaster perfume containers from the grave of King Tut – photo by Death/Scent

An Egyptian lady named Tapputi was distilling flowers and oils to make perfumes in the second millennium BC – thus, she is recorded on a tablet from Mesopotamia. Her scents must have been exceptional for her name to linger on.

Yet, when they opened the tomb of Tutankhamun, they caught a lingering smell of the heavy fragrance used when they buried him, 3,300 years ago. And here, intricately designed perfume bottles lay in the tomb.

How They Contained Scent in the Early Days

In order to preserve the expensive perfumes, the Egyptians designed containers for the precious oils and unguents. And some of the elaborate bottles and jars may be more valuable than the scent itself- and this sometimes continues to this day.

At first, they made the containers of hollowed-out stone, wood, clay or alabaster. It kept the perfume cool and didn’t leak.

The Core Method for Glass Vessels

Ancient Egyptian perfume bottle, amphoriskos, core-formed, trailed – photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

But then, they adopted glass to make the vessels. Their early techniques used a process involving a core onto which the vitreous glass was moulded. Then, after the glass had set, the core was scraped out. They decorated the surface with twists of coloured glass and added handles and bases. This work called for a high degree of skill.

They used such materials as cobalt, quartz, rock salt copper and the ash from plants. Colours were often toned to look like lapis lazuli or turquoise.

These glass containers are rare, and it is likely that only very wealthy people could afford them. When found, they tend to be located in tombs and shrines.

Glass Blowing – and Mass Production

Egypt has continued to produce high-quality glass scent bottles, but it wasn’t until Roman times, in about the 1st century BC, that glass blowing was invented. This revolutionised the industry since mass production was possible. During the excavations at Pompeii, both alabaster vessels and fragments of glass ones were recovered (Vesuvius exploded in 79 BC). Many of these were found in what was an open-air dining centre with an altar – and scent would have been an important part of the feasting and also in propitiating the Gods.

The Romans also produced luxury items such as cameo glass vessels – very rare and very expensive! They even used precious stones carved out to hold the precious liquids.

And then the Roman Empire collapsed, about 478 A.D.

The Forgotten Middle Ages

An agate silver-gilt mounted casting bottle, perhaps English, circa 1535-40 – photo by Burghley Collections | Burghley House

Western Europe entered the “Middle Ages”, and many luxury items were no longer made. It took almost 1,000 years before there was a resurgence in the manufacture of luxury perfume bottles in the Renaissance Period.

Again, there was variety in the materials used to make the perfume containers. Apart from glass, they used porcelain, precious metals like gold or silver, semi-precious stones and even shells.

New Centres of Excellence

From Venice to England

Venice became an important glass producing centre – and it still is. Glass-makers in England, Spain, the Low Countries and France copied the Venetian masters, the wares being known as “Facon de Venise”. England, in particular, produced unique glass perfume bottle decorated with enamelling and often gilded. A Chinese influence became popular, as it was in the field of porcelain.

The Secret Passage

The Florentine Pharmacy, serving the Medici – photo by Giulio Ghirardi | AnOther Magazine

Hungary produced “Hungary Water” – scented oils in an alcohol solution. And in Italy, Catherine Medici’s personal perfumer accompanied her to France in the mid-16th century – his laboratory had a secret passageway to her apartments to prevent industrial theft. His influence helped France become a perfume centre, growing flowers especially for perfume in the south.

In fact, personal hygiene was at a low ebb during this period- so there really was a need for masking scents. In 1693, an Italian barber created what we know as Eau de Cologne.

The Industrial Revolution and the Glass Making Revolution

In the 1800s, came the Industrial Revolution and a revolution in glass vessels for perfume. They used a mechanical press to mass-produce the bottles – cheaply and economically. And the packing was important, adding to the appeal – and cost. In France, Rene Lalique designed glass containers for such well-known perfume makers as Francois Coty.

A Range of More Modern Manufacturers

Monsieur Marquay bottle, design by Salvador Dali, 1953 – photo by Jilly E | Pinterest

Other manufacturers were making sure the working classes also had attractive containers for their perfumes, companies like Avon and Max Factor – well-known names today. We now have a huge range of perfumes, their containers and prices – and perfume continues to be a prestigious part of a woman’s wardrobe – and more and more our men, too – with their own designs of bottles and wrapping, are finding that they, too, like to smell sweet.

America contributed high-grade crystal Baccarat bottles in the 1920s and after WW2, Christian Dior and Nini Ricci vessels were works of art! Even Salvador Dali designed a bottle – depicting a man in a top hat and bow tie.

Today in Egypt

One of the most well-known places to buy beautiful glass perfume bottle is from the Khan-el-Khalili market in Egypt. They use a technique passed down through families since the early 19th century.

Set of 12 Mouth Blown Egyptian Perfume Bottles Pyrex Glass – photo by Egyptian Jewelry | Egyptian papyrus

To make these vessels, they import glass pyrex tubes from Europe. The artist draws a pattern on the tube which can then be cut into pieces which are fired and shaped. The firing uses very high temperature (around 1000 degrees centigrade), to make the glass more flexible and almost runny. It has to be constantly rotated as the artist blows air through it to shape it.

Then another artist with different skills engraves the pattern – being careful not to cut too deep. Generally, a third-person applies the colouring, often on a rotating wheel, or maybe painted on by hand. And the best are gilded with 12ct liquid gold. A cheaper version of a gold application might be gold paint, which still looks very fine, tho’ a little less brilliant. Finally, the piece is baked at 500 C to set the colours for around 30 minutes, depending on the size.

What should the collector look for?

Antique Perfume Bottle with Metallic Lace, Stumpwork and Wire Grapes, Ribbon Work Decoration, and Pleated Chiffon – photo by Ruby Lane

1. Check the thickness of the glass. Although most vessels are made from the pyrex tubes some others might come from recycled light bulbs when the glass is thinner, more fragile and usually less elaborately decorated. If you tap the vessel, these thinned containers produce a higher sound.

2. Some bottles are less than perfect! They may lean to one side and stand unevenly. Seeing is believing – so if you buy online, go through a reputable dealer!

3. Is the gold paint or the genuine guided 12ct article? Price may be a guide but so is the brilliance of the gilded and burnished gold. There really is nothing quite like it.

4. Check the stopper. The original purpose of scent containers was to stop the perfume evaporating away – you don’t want leaks. Damage during transit is not uncommon, so do check for chips or splinters, especially at the very top and the bottom and look carefully at the plunger.

5. But there is such a huge variety that you will probably be mostly looking for, something you personally find especially attractive.

Some of the Items Recently on Offer

Prices range from less than a dollar to thousands. Most collectors are interested in the nineteenth and twentieth-century bottles. Although porcelain was used in the eighteenth century now it is almost exclusively glass that is used. The atomiser is often marked DeVilbiss after the company used to make them since 1888.

1912 Antique Sterling Silver Enamel and Glass Scent Bottles – photo by 1stdibs

For 7316 AUD (£3,950), you might have been able to buy this magnificent set of English George V scent bottles in the case shown. Date 1912.

They are adorned with a very pale blue guilloche enamel with delicate violet garlands above a narrow band which has tiny floral motifs. The upper part has a purple scrolling trellis border.

The upper plateau of the cover is encircled with further enamel ornamentation reflecting the design to the lower portion of the body. The original silver gilding remains.

When you open the container, you can see the three sections, one for each bottle with its stopper. Each has a silver mount decorated with a pale blue enamel band.

The original box is of leatherette, with hinged lids and lined with velvet and satin. The retailer’s mark ‘Diamond Merchants, Searle & Co Ltd, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths, 79 Lombard St, London’ is there. The box has a trefoil catch to fasten it.

The item weights 204 g – 0.45 lb and the container is 9.6 cm/3.8″ tall. The bottles ore 3.4 cm/1.3″ long and 2.1 cm/0.8″ wide.

Impressive Victorian Perfume Bottle – photo by LoveAntiques.com

They are stated to be in excellent condition, with hallmarks and some very slight wear.

And for 1473 AUD

Or perhaps you would fancy this genuine Victorian cut crystal glass scent bottle, dated 1900?

The sterling silver collar and lid have flower decoration and the hallmarks, for Birmingham, are present. 1473 AUD (£795) is the price quoted.

Final Thoughts

These are just two examples of highly collectable items at the upper end of cost. But collecting scent bottle can appeal to all ages, experience and fortune. They can be a fascinating glimpse into our past history as well as visually attractive and transportable. They can also be seriously addictive!


The Legend of the Three & Five Fives Eau De Colognes in Every Egyptian Household

Walking into any Egyptian household – more specifically those of older Egyptian generations – one will surely find an aging bottle of Talat Khamsat (Three Fives) or Khamas Khamsat (Five Fives) perfume in a corner somewhere. These Egyptian eau de colognes can both be spotted and smelled from a distance, thanks to their very distinguishable vintage-like branding and their equally distinguishable – if not more so – smell that can immediately fill a room and seep through the nostrils.

Nationalistic origins: the creation of a perfume

The Three Fives (555) brand was founded in the mid-to-late-20th century and its famous line of perfumes is produced by the Chabrawishi Fragrance Factory which was established in 1924. Hamza El Chabrawishi was a well-known name back in his heyday, and his products were beloved nation-wide. His Three Fives line of products were so popular in fact, that even both King Farouk and President Abdel Nasser were fans.

After Abdel Nasser’s reign, Chabrawishi’s factory eventually transformed from a once family-owned business to a state-owned business. The product’s popularity never died down however, and it somehow evolved into a national product that has been alive and well for many a generation.

Following this product’s popularity, a later version of the perfume was created under the name Five Fives (55555). Although similar in more ways than one, and therefore commonly confused for each other, this eau de cologne is not part of Chabrawishi’s Three Fives brand and was created by Dr. Antoine Kedis who started his Five Fives brand in 1968. The brand started with a baby powder line and branched out to include various other products such as their eau de cologne and hair henna.

Granted these famous perfume bottles are not the only products associated with the older generation’s households, as there are a number of once go-to products that are now fragments of memories from our childhoods. Of such products are the Tiger Balm (pain relieving balm), Vicks (throat soothing balm or lozenge), and Rivo (aspirin-like medicine for headaches) – all of which were once staples in every Egyptian household, and some of which still are.

Perfume, antiseptic: a product popular for its multi-use

What is interesting to note however when it comes to both 555/55555 perfumes, is the fact that these originally cosmetic products has evolved into being categorized as a remedial products as well. For one reason or another, the 555 and 55555 perfumes were no longer only used as a perfume, but also as an antiseptic and even a remedy for fevers – if not more so the latter. In addition to that, they are also one of the few ‘older’ products that are still staples, and will most likely be found, in most of our grandparents’ households today.

Egyptian culture is known to have a history of self-care-related traditions – whether they be in the form of cosmetics-related self-care or remedial self-care. In fact, the importance of self-care in Egyptian culture dates all the way back to ancient times, where evidently the ancient Egyptians were known to use makeup as well as keep medicinal records. That being said, it is no wonder that this idea of the importance of self-care has been engraved in Egypt’s culture throughout the years, albeit having evolved and been transformed with the passing of time.

In that the 555/55555 Eau De Colognes have managed to somehow hit two birds with one stone with their multi-purpose use, they are perhaps the ultimate Egyptian self-care product in modern history. What once started as a popular perfume brand is now also a go-to antiseptic, perhaps in large part due to its high concentration of alcohol – which is evident in its strong fragrance.

As previously mentioned, the eau de colognes have a very distinct and strong smell and although it could have once been considered pleasant – amidst a sea of current local and international competition- it is now not necessarily anyone’s first choice as a perfume.

When thinking about what has kept these specific – very similar – brands alive for all these years, one can’t help but consider the fact that they barely even need advertising for consumers to still purchase them. The products are well-known amongst all social classes in Egypt, in part due to their affordability, and across the whole country, and the branding is so distinct that they practically sell themselves.

Both the 555 and 55555 Eau de Colognes have become some sort of a legendary products that are well-known and have evidently been tried and trusted by the majority of the Egyptian population. They are both so well-known in fact that given either one would at any point in time choose to re-brand itself, it might end up losing popularity rather than successfully position itself differently.

An Egyptian brand in a sea of foreign competition

With today’s tendency to being drawn towards western consumerism (and more specifically western beauty products), it is quite a feat for these legendary Egyptian brands to stay afloat amidst the current competition – albeit more so in the households of our older Egyptian generation. However, it is interesting to note that they are still producing products to this day as a means of staying in line with current trends.

In an interview with CBC’s ”Sa7bet El Sa3ada” show, Esaad Younes interviewed the current owners of the famous Five Fives brand who revealed a range of new products such as depilatory creams, skin creams and a revamped version of the 55555’s baby powder. With prices still under 50 EGP (3 US$), the brand is branching beyond what it came to be known for, while still staying within a reasonable and affordable price range for the middle class Egyptian consumer.

In any case, the legend of these perfumes lives on, and it is unlikely that it will ever be forgotten from modern Egyptian history.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Five Fives perfume falls under Chabrawishi’s brand. However, this information was corrected and a distinction has been made between Hazem El Chabrawishi’s earlier Three Fives (555) brand, and Dr. Antoine Kedis’ later Five Fives (55555) brand.


All about amber: Secrets of an ancient perfume

The rich, complex fragrance of amber is a favorite for meditation and love magick. Amber is available as an incense, perfume oil, and solid resin. But what is amber anyway? Is it related to the gemstone of the same name? Read on for all the details on this ancient, mystical perfume.

Amber Resin

Properly speaking, amber is a solid incense with its roots in the Middle East. Amber is a compound fragrance, meaning it is made up of a mix of ingredients. It is not the same as the semi-precious gem amber (fossilized tree resin) or ambergris (a perfume ingredient from sperm whale intestines).

Throughout history, the fragrant resins of desert plants were prized as both religious offerings and luxury perfumes. The ancient Egyptians elevated perfumery to an art form, with compound incenses like the famous Kyphi. These solid perfumes were rolled into cakes, dried, and burned over coals. Today, the finest amber resins come from India.

Recipes for amber are varied, and many have been passed down through families for generations. Amber is usually described as warm, sweet, and a little spicy. Benzoin and vanilla form the base notes of most ambers. (Sometimes tonka bean is substituted for the vanilla.) Labdanum—a sticky resin from a flower called “rock-rose” or “rose of Sharon”—gives amber its woody, musky character.

Different perfumers will adjust these three components to produce very different ambers. Egyptian Amber is generally sweet and musky. Tunisian Amber is a spicy, Oriental-style fragrance. Extra notes like sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, lemongrass, musk, bergamot and rose may be added in solid or essential oil form. There really is no limit to the variations on amber!

To make the solid perfume, the aromatic ingredients of amber are ground up and blended into a soft carrier ingredient. Beeswax is traditional for this purpose. There are also vegan ambers based on coconut or jojoba oil. Solid amber resin is quite expensive, but only a small amount is needed to savor its delicious fragrance.

Because amber is a blend of fragrances, there is really no such thing as “amber essence” or “amber essential oil.” Amber may contain essential oil, but is not available as a single-ingredient essential oil. (Unless you are talking about true ambergris, or distilled fossilized amber, both of which are extremely rare.) Rather, amber is always a blended oil. Amber perfume oils mimic the complex fragrance of amber resin by blending the essences of each ingredient—usually, benzoin, vanilla, and labdanum, with accents of citrus, woods, florals, or spice.

Using Amber

If you wish to enjoy amber as the ancients did, obtain some of the solid resin and incense charcoal. Once the charcoal is hot, crumble or scape a tiny bit of the resin onto the coals. The waxy base will melt, releasing the divine aroma into the air.

Amber resin may also be used as a long-lasting personal perfume. Warm the resin to body temperature (using your hands) and rub on the pulse points. You can also carry a piece of amber with you in a small box or locket, allowing the fragrance to slowly dissipate. (Being a solid perfume, amber's volatile oils evaporate more slowly than conventional perfume. But you'll still want to keep it in an airtight container when not in use.)

Of course, amber addicts have many other options for enjoying this timeless fragrance. Perfume oils, self-lighting incense, bath products, and scented candles are all convenient ways to get a dose of amber goodness.

Magickal properties of Amber

Because amber is a diverse fragrance family, its magickal uses are also broad and varied. Ambers may be broadly classified into light, medium, and dark varieties. Generally speaking, the amber fragrance corresponds to Venus and Earth/Fire. Amber has a very powerful energy that evokes both sensual pleasure and ancient wisdom.

White Amber—i.e., heavy on the sandalwood and florals—is a smooth, blissful fragrance. It contains more Air and Water energy than darker ambers. Use it in your temple or bedroom space for restful sleep, meditation, and happy dreams.

Golden or Honey Amber (the most popular variety) is a fragrance of love and abundance. Use it as a personal perfume when performing love-drawing magick. Like Frankincense, Golden Amber is a suitable offering to almost any deity.

Dark Amber has an earthy, sticky, sweetness and loads of exotic spice. (Some perfumers describe them as “chewy,” which really sums up the mouth-watering qualities of full-bodied Ambers!) Use for sex magick, earth magick, dark moon workings, or as a sophisticated stand-in for musk or patchouli.


Archaeologists Recreate Ancient Egyptian Perfume Worn By Cleopatra

Archaeologists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have decoded and recreated millennia-old perfume worn by the ancient Egyptians, perhaps even the famed Queen of the Nile herself, Cleopatra.

The recipe for the scents was drawn from a series of ancient Greek texts that speak of two Mendesian and Metopian perfumes. Along with a sprinkling of other fragrant oils and natural ingredients, the base note of the two perfumes is myrrh, a tree resin obtained from a flowering plant grown in parts of Africa and Asia.

"The Mendesian is myrrh based and has a very pleasant smell like a light incense. The other perfume, Metopian, is much muskier and harsher and actually my preferred perfume," Dr Jay Silverstein, an archaeologist from the University of Tyumen who worked on the project, told IFLScience.

“While someone like Cleopatra, a known aficionado of perfume who would have likely had hundreds of perfumes, the texts suggest that the Mendesian would have been one of her most valued,” he explained.

In the hopes of getting even closer to the authentic pong of ancient Egypt, the team is also looking to carry out scientific analysis on their findings from excavations at Tell-El Timai, a site near the Egyptian capital of Cairo that dates back to 300 BCE.

In 2012, they discovered a house in the ruined city that contained a hoard of silver coins, as well as gold and silver jewelry, near to a number of kilns once used to create perfume bottles. This led the team to believe that the house once belonged to a perfume merchant, so they're currently using chemical analysis on vessels found near the structure to see if there are any identifiable traces of the liquids once contained inside.

Perfume was profoundly important in the ancient world, Much more than just a pleasant odor to spray on before a date, it played a deeper role in their ideas of life, death, and the afterlife.

“Perfume had much more power than we usually ascribe to it today. It was important in rituals, for healing, and even associated with immortality so it was desired not just for sumptuary purposes, but the scents had the power to improve the quality of your life and likely even your afterlife,” added Dr Silverstein.

Besides anything else, Cleopatra – the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, who ruled from 51 to 30 BCE – was also said to bathe in soured goat's milk and powdered her face with dried crocodile dung. So, perhaps a pleasant smelling distraction wouldn't go amiss either.

If you fancy catching a sniff of the ancient scent with your own nose, the perfume is on display at the National Geographic Museum’s exhibition “ Queens of Egypt ” in Washington DC until September 15, 2019.


Watch the video: Egyptian Perfume Bottle Making (August 2022).