History of Perfumes - Part 2

We are now in the era, just before the birth of Christ i.e BC or BCE (Before Christ or Before Common Era) and humans have now grown in knowledge of the ingredients they used to make perfumes and the techniques they used to do so.

Let us visit some crucial places where the emphasis on the art of perfumery was way ahead at that time.

 

Greece

The ancient Greeks had a plethora of Gods & Goddesses, they associated a different fragrance for every deity in worshipping and carrying out rituals associated with them. They believed that something so aromatic, fragrant & beautiful must have come from the gods themselves. There were plenty of botanists at that time who wrote about fragrant ingredients and how to use them.

In the beginning, the Greeks only knew to burn ingredients to get their aroma, however soon they started to mince plants, resins & woods together and suspended them in oil to get what we know today as perfume oils.

Also, the importance of hygiene dawned upon the Grecians at this time and they started bathing and using perfume oils (cause they believed that perfumes thwarted diseases).

The most amazing anecdote of 'seduction through perfume' is also associated with this era, If history were to appoint a brand ambassador for the ancient art of Perfumes then it has to be Queen Cleopatra. Texts document the first-ever use of perfumes for seduction when Cleopatra laced the sails of her ship with fragrant ingredients to seduce Roman politician Marcus Antonius. This seduction worked so well that Marcus or Mark later became her husband.

Further, due to the conquests of Alexander the Great, trade from eastern parts of the world brought in exotic fragrant ingredients such as spices, resins, and flowers to the land of Greece. All of which led to the sudden popularity of Perfumes & perfume shops all around the kingdom.

 

Rome

It shall not be the first time that we learn of the influence the Greeks had on the Romans or vice-versa.  The news of the usage of perfume in Greece spread like wildfire between the people of Rome.

The Romans did not invent the art of perfumery but they sure popularised the usage of it and that too to such an extent that they gave the word 'Perfume' to the world.

In short, the Romans went crazy about perfumes so much that documents show Rome used around 3000 tons of Frankincense in a year. They used ointments with aromatic ingredients for massages and the use of Rosewater became extremely popular during Roman's world-renowned public baths.

They sourced the perfume ingredients from areas of conquests and this sudden inflow of perfume ingredients saw a rapid enhancement in the ancillary activities associated with Perfumery. For example, blow molding distillation and the use of glass bottles for storing perfumes were developed during this time.

But, the Roman empire fell just as quickly as it gained prominence and the advancement in the world of perfumes took a standstill.

 

While Roman & Grecians were doing their thing, the world was not sitting cross-legged waiting for things to happen. In India, the temples were being built out of Sandalwood and perfumed ingredients were being used in Tantric & religious rituals.

In China & Japan, they started infusing their surroundings and everyday objects with aromatic ingredients.

January 18, 2021 — Scent Split