Feeds

Archaeologists sniff out world's oldest perfumes

Chanel No. 4,000BC

Seven Steps to Software Security

Archaeologists have unearthed the world's oldest perfumes on the island of Cyprus - 4,000-year-old sweet smelling concoctions brewed from lavender, bay, rosemary, pine or coriander, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The discovery was made at a 43,000 sq ft site at Pyrgos, on the south of the island, where the Italian team believes there was a vast perfume-making facility. Among the equipment left after the area was buried by an earthquake around 1850 BC were distilling stills, mixing bowls, and alabaster perfume amphorae. Lead archaeologist Maria Rosa Belgiorno enthused: "We were astonished at how big the place was. Perfumes must have been produced on an industrial scale."

While the finds can now be enjoyed at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, an Italian foundation has used residues of four of the original scents to recreate them using techniques outlined by Pliny the Elder* - "grinding the herbs, adding them to oil and water, then burying them in a small long-necked jug over hot embers for 12 hours".

The results have proved a moderate success. A female museum visitor described one brew as "good, but strong", while another offered: "I can smell the pine especially." Neither "was sure that they would actually wear them", however. ®

Bootnote

*A quick peruse of Pliny the Elder's illuminating Historia Naturalis, Book XIII, regarding perfumes and unguents, shows that the ancient perfume market was as competitive as it is today. Chanel No. 5 versus Rive Gauche? Plus ça change...

The perfume of iris, from Corinth, was long held in the highest esteem, till that of Cyzicus came into fashion. It was the same, too, with the perfume of roses, from Phaselis, the repute of which was afterwards eclipsed by those of Neapolis, Capua, and Præneste. Oil of saffron, from Soli in Cilicia, was for a long time held in repute beyond any other, and then that from Rhodes; after which perfume of oenanthe, from Cyprus, came into fashion, and then that of Egypt was preferred. At a later period that of Adramytteum came into vogue, and then was supplanted by unguent of marjoram, from Cos, which in its turn was superseded by quince blossom unguent from the same place. As to perfume of cyprus, that from the island of Cyprus was at first preferred, and then that of Egypt; when all on a sudden the unguents of Mendes and metopium rose into esteem.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.