Ancient Egyptian Perfumes


The ancient Egyptians were famous for their perfumes. Cleopatra herself wore Neroli oil, an essential oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. When she went to Rome, the sails of her boat were soaked in the oil so Mark Anthony could catch her seducing scent even before she arrived. Not surprisingly then, in The Deadliest Lie, Miriam encourages Phoebe to create and market her own scent:

Do you ever think about being free, Phoebe? Of Papa’s paying the tax for your manumission and setting you up in a business in the agora like a perfumery? We have the connections for you to import aromatic gums from Somalia, Arabia, and India, and I could show you how to distill them so you could blend and market an exclusive scent.

Perfume houses in Egypt today can actually reproduce these ancient scents. For example, they have recreated the perfume of Tutankhamun from an alabaster jar found in his tomb. The recipe consists of these 16 ingredients: raisins, wine, honey, frankincense, myrrh, mastic, pine resin, sweet flat, aspalathus, camel grass, mint, cyperus, juniper berries, pine kernels, peker, and cinnamon. The 16 ingredients correspond to the 16 pieces of Osiris, who was murdered and chopped up by his brother. The recipe also specifies that it takes 12 days for the perfume to be ready, reflecting the number of days Isis, Osiris’s wife, spent locating the pieces of her husband and putting them back together.


You do not have to buy the perfume to read The Deadliest Lie. Moreover, it will take you less than 12 minutes to order, but it might enchant you as much as the scent Cleopatra wore enchanted Marc Antony. Just click here.

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