Perfume and fragrances are exquisite and have been a part of many cultures for thousands of years. Thinking of perfumes used centuries ago, brings thoughts of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. Her beauty and mystery surrounded in awe and wonder and her beautiful fragrances she would have worn. Archeological finds indicate that perfume making was already present in the Mesopotamian times. The Mesopotamian are a great influence to Egyptians so Egyptians are part of the history of perfume.
Afterwards, in ancient Egypt, more emphasis was put on perfume and perfume making when the high priests made elaborate scents and fragrances for their royalty. In the history of perfume, it states that the use of perfumes and fragrances soon became common that even soldiers in the Egyptian army are said to carry vials of perfumes and oils used to make one presentable and to care for their hair and skin in the dry climate. Women in the higher echelons of society would carry in their person a mixture of fat and perfume. This mixture would exude a fragrance which lasted for some time.
Mummification is also mentioned in the history of perfume. The Egyptians used all kinds of essences and herbs to make the mummy fragrant and also to celebrate the death of the person. They believed that dying was only the beginning, and when they die, they assume their true forms as gods.
The history of perfume soon brings us to Israel. Perfume and the use of it have been mentioned numerous times in the Bible, in both the New Testament and the Old Testament and from Israel, the history of perfume reaches Greece.
In Greek mythology, there are many references to perfumes and fragrances from the trees and flowers. These are sometimes gifts from the gods but leaving mythology behind and focusing in ancient Greece, the perfumers from neighboring cities came and sold their scents and fragrances in Greece. The Greeks were so enamored by these perfumes that they would import them and spend much of their wealth on perfumes. Perfume was also offered to the gods but most of the Greeks applied perfume on their persons.
The Greeks so loved perfumes that they made lavish containers for these scents. This was the Greeks main contribution to the history of perfume, the beautiful containers that are the ancestors of the vials and bottle that exist today to hold perfume. Their most beautiful container was made of glass, slim and classical in form and called the “lekythos”.
From Greece, the history of perfume brings us to Etruria where the people made more notable containers for perfumes and also for perfume making. From Etruria, we go to Rome. In Rome, people perfumed everything from their houses to their horses. They lived a life of excess and perfumes were part of their excesses. This is probably where designer perfume started because in a certain area of the city, perfume makers made distinct scents of which they were known for.
In Arabia, the Arabs were perfectionists who perfected perfume making. The other thing to their advantage was that they were closer to the sources of essences and scents. The merchants and knights who returned from the Crusade brought with them to the West the heady perfumes and exotic scents of the East. So perfume as we know it was introduced to the West. When Catherine de Medici went to France to marry King Henry, she brought with her a perfumer and he became famous for his scented creations.
France then entered the history of perfume and introduced designer perfume to the French – and that was the beginning of the end. There is nothing more beautiful than a designer perfume made in the heart of France. Perfume is here forever.