Tag Archives: egypt

A 2,000-year-old cream belonging to an aristocrat discovered

In  1922 Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of Tutankhamun. The tomb had been sealed approximately 3 200 years earlier. (The reign of Tutankhamon lasted 1333-1324Bc) The tomb was filled with unimaginable treasures and amongst these treasures were clay-pots filled with solidified matter from which a scent could was faintly discernible. On analysis the pots turned out to contain perfumed ointments; myrrh and frankincense mixed in animal and vegetable fat. This story always fascinated me, and now it happened again:

A 2,000-year-old cream belonging to an aristocrat discovered

July 12th, 2009 – 5:56 pm ICT by ANI

Washington, July 12 (ANI): Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a 2,000-year-old cream, left almost intact in the cosmetic case of an aristocratic Etruscan woman.

The lotion, which was discovered four years ago in a necropolis near the Tuscan town of Chiusi, has been revealed now, only after chemical analysis has identified the original compounds of the ancient ointment.

The archaeologists found an intact tomb-dating to the second half of the second century B.C.-sealed by a large terracotta tile.

The site featured a red-purple painted inscription with the name of the deceased: Thana Presnti Plecunia Umranalisa.

And quite near to the tomb, they found a cosmetic case, richly decorated with bone, ivory, tin and bronze elements.

The feet of the box featured bone carved in the shape of Sirens.

The case was filled with precious personal objects- a couple of bronze finger rings, a pair of tweezers, two combs and an alabaster unguentarium vessel – a vase-shaped jar – of Egyptian origins.

“The entire content of the cosmetic case was found under a clay layer which deposited throughout time. This made it possible for the ointment to survive almost intact despite (the fact that) the vessel had no cap,” Discovery News quoted Erika Ribechini, a researcher at the department of chemistry and industrial chemistry of Pisa University, as saying.

The ointment, a solid, homogeneous and pale yellow mass, revealed fatty acids in high abundance.

“This is almost unique in archaeology. Even though more than 2,000 years have passed, the oxidation of the organic material has not yet been completed. This is most likely due to the sealing of the alabaster unguentarium by the clayish earth, which prevented contact with oxygen,” said Ribechini.

The analysis revealed that the contents of the vessel consisted of a mixture of substances of lipids and resins.

“The natural resins were the pine resin, exudated from Pinaceae, and the mastic resin, from Anacardiaceae trees. The lipid was a vegetable oil, most likely moringa oil, which was used by the Egyptians and Greeks to produce ointments and perfumes,” said Ribechini.

Moringa oil was one of the ingredients in a recipe for a perfume for ancient royalty.

Thus, the researchers believe that the lotion was imported.

The discovery has been detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. (ANI)

More at : A 2,000-year-old cream belonging to an aristocrat discovered http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/health/a-2000-year-old-cream-belonging-to-an-aristocrat-discovered_100216985.html#ixzz0gYHGQEH1

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ESSENTIAL OIL & SCENT HISTORY part 1

incenseThe history of essential oils is exciting, romantic and mind-boggling. The stories are everywhere; the whole bible is full of allusions to essential oils. What makes it so exciting is that this part of history is continuously here and now. Each time I smell an oil, I am smelling the whole stretch of history…I am actually part of it, and what the oil does to me, it has done to every person since the dawn of time! And knowing the oils gives me insight to why some oils were used in specific situations. Mind-boggling!

The word Perfume is derived from the Latin per fumum, meaning through smoke. Early man found that certain herbs gave a rich-scenting and healing smoke when placed on the fire. These plants were, naturally, special gifts from the Gods. Bad smells, such as rot and decay, were dangerous to health, so early man learned, by using the sense of smell, what was good and what was bad. I believe these early learnings have become part of a human hereditary trait; every person recognizes the smell of rot and bacteria infestation, even if they never smelled it before.

Queen Hatsheput templeEGYPT:

The Egyptians are the best-known when it comes to the use of aromatic substances. There are ample records on papyrus-rolls dating back to 1700 B.C of how they were used. Wealthy people wore perfumed wax-cones on their heads to melt during the day and infuse them in scent. (We need to remember that these times were stinky. People and their waste is smelly business.) The whole embalming-process was done with essential oils, resins and other scented substances. The process could take up to 6 months and would cost a fortune. This was done for royalty and very wealthy individuals. The “quickie-embalmings” for the not-so-wealthy would take as little as a day. When Tutankhamons grave was opened in the 1920:s (after being sealed for more than 2000 years) small pots were found with solidified scented matter, with the scent still discernible to the nose. Analysis showed it to be wax infused with Frankincense (boswellia carterii) and Myrrh (commiphora myrrha)

The Egyptian temples were in fact laboratories for the priests who were the connectors to God. Only the priests had the knowledge of how to create medicines and holy potions. There are records of medicine for hay-fever, youth-elixirs, and potions to prevent pregnancy. Each hour of the day had a special perfume. In Heliopolis, the city of the Sun-God Ra, Frankincense was burned at sunrise, Myrrh (commiphora myrrha) at noon and Kyphi at sunset. Kyphi is one of the first documented perfumes in history. There are 16 ingredients of which 12 are identified: Calmus, Cassia, Cinnamon, Cyperus, Frankincense, Hina, Juniper, Mastic, Myrrh, Saffron, Spikenard and Turpentine.

Kyphi

Each God had its own scent and the statues in the temples were anointed every day. Osiris had Marjoram (origanum majorana) and Ra had Frankincense.

Scented herbs, spices, flowers, barks, woods and resins were imported from Malaysia, China and India. Frankincense resin came from the Arabic peninsula. The resin comes from a small desert-tree and is to this day collected by nomadic tribes. At the time only  certain tribes knew where to find it and how to get it, and this made Frankincense a very valuable substance, even more valuable than gold.

frankincense resin