Wednesday, March 21, 2007

World's Oldest Perfumes Found on Cyprus

There are two stories today about a discovery of a Middle Bronze Age perfume factory by Italian archaeologists at Pyrgos, Cyprus, dating to c. 1850 BC. The finds include mixing bowls and small alabaster bottles that held the perfume. Natural herbs such as lavender, pine and rosemary (but not, so far, parsely, sage or thyme) were used for the fragrances. The scholars have attempted to recreate the perfumes using recipes written down by Roman authors. One of my professors, William Biers, got a grant from a major perfume manufacturer to do analyses of the contents of ancient perfume vessels in the hopes, I guess, of finding Cleopatra's perfume or something. Like most such investigations, one can detect certain ingredients, but not the proportions nor the method of preparation. It seems doubtful that ancient perfumes would appeal to modern shoppers anyway.

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