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Take time to smell the roses: the history of perfume

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt considered perfume sacred. They burned incense in the morning, afternoon, and evening as an offering to the gods. Perfume also played an important role in funeral ceremonies. The Egyptians filled the dead body with myrrh and scented oils to keep parasites away and to preserve both the body and the soul. But that was not all…

From ancient Egypt…

The Egyptians regularly covered themselves with scented animal fat. They used it to make themselves more attractive and to protect their skin from the sun’s hot rays. Queen Cleopatra, who ruled Egypt more than 2,000 years ago, adored fragrances. It is said that she even had the sails of her ships perfumed, and that her captivating smell bewitched many men, including the famous Roman emperor Julius Caesar. On important occasions, The Egyptians wore perfume cones on their heads. As their body heat melted the scented fat, their wigs and their faces were perfumed.


…to the Romans

Egyptians passed on their passion for fragrance to the Romans. The Romans used a different perfume on each part of the body and on their toga, and even went as far as swallowing perfume to hide bad breath! People in every class of society in ancient Rome used perfume. During banquets, people would spray their guests with perfume as they rested on perfumed couches. They even sprayed the walls of their bathrooms with it!

Today neither fat nor fragrant plants are needed to create perfume. Advances in chemistry have made it possible for perfumers to artificially recreate almost every scent… or invent entirely new ones!