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The Origin and History of Perfumes

Learn all about the history of perfumes!

Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Persian Empire, and the Roman Empire all have a history of perfumes being used in various ways. This article will talk about the origin and history of perfumes!

Perfume Throughout History

Perfumes have been an integral part of religious ceremonies over history. Ancient Egyptians used them for various burial purposes. Their Kings and Queens used them in their bath waters to scent their bodies. The God Nefertem is the Lord of Perfumes in Egyptian mythology.

Not just the Egyptians, the Persians were also captivated by the perfume. Persian kings and the nobility gave great importance to fragrances and scents. The Kings had their personal perfumes made, their own signature scents, and no one among their family and friends was allowed to wear them. Several workshops with equipment to make fragrances spread all over Persia. Historians consider the Persians to be the inventors of non-oil-based perfumes, and they dominated the perfume trade for hundreds of years.

How can we not talk about the Romans and the Greeks regarding perfume? Historians discovered actual documentation of their perfume-making processes. They created one of their fragrances using these documented processes that possibly dated back to 1850 BC!

They did not only use perfumes for religious ceremonies, but they also used them in public bathhouses and in skin and body care items in the form of oil and balms. Doctors in these ancient times used this item to treat infections. They also used it to purify the air around them. They believed that balms and oils with fragrances had effective anti-aging agents.

Origin of Perfumes

How does one make perfume? Well, the ancient people used natural substances like the bark of trees, wood, leaves, flowers, and seeds to make it. The earliest evidence of perfume comes from Egypt and Mesopotamia, after which the Persians and Romans picked it up.

Historians recognize a woman chemist named Taputti as the world’s first perfume maker. They discovered her stories of perfumes in Mesopotamia on a clay tablet, which suggests that she made perfume around the second millennium BC.

The word perfume itself derives from the Latin word ‘Parfumare’, which means ‘to smoke through,’ and the art of making perfumes is ‘perfumery.’ The very first form of perfume was not in a liquid state. On the contrary, ancient cultures burned incense to create fragrant smoke. Historians attribute the credit for liquid perfume to the Greeks, but the Arabic discovery of distillation made the production of perfumes feasible.

Perfumes in this Day and Age

In the 19th Century, the perfume industry underwent a significant change. With the help of development in chemistry, the foundation of modern perfumery was laid. Perfumes today are a mixture of complex chemicals. The production of synthetic versions of many natural compounds has played a huge role in facilitating the manufacture of fragrances and liquid perfume.