Scents from the gods

Editorial Staff
March 22, 2007

Italian archaeologists have found the world’s oldest perfumes on the island of Cyprus, mythical home of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The prehistoric scents are now at Rome’s Capitoline Museums, in a show featuring 60 objects such as stills, mixing bowls, funnels, amphorae and other tools. The perfume-making process has been recreated by modern researchers, who demonstrate the skills of the ancient craftsmen. The fragrances themselves are arrayed in the tiny alabaster phials in which they were found: olive oil, water, pine and coriander mixed with the essence of laurel, bergamot, parsley and bitter almonds. Each has been named after a Greek goddess: Aphrodite, Hera, Athena and Artemis.

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