February 20, 2012

Perfume in Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egypt Perfume in 3 Steps

Vain of their appearance , the ancient Egyptians considered cosmetics an important part of ancient Egyptians dress. Nevertheless, their use went beyond this, for their application was often a matter of personal hygiene and health. Oils and creams were of vital importance against the hot Egyptian sun and dry, sandy winds. So essential were they considered that non-arrival of ointments in part-payment of wages was one of the chief grievances of the striking workers at Deir el-Medina during the reign of Ramses III. The oils were necessary to keep the skin soft and supple and to prevent the onset of aliments caused by cracked, dry skin. Thus ointments figure largely in medical recipes of all kinds throughout Egyptian history .

Perfumes Industry in Ancient Egypt
A great variety of oil and fats were available to the ancient Egyptian perfumers. These can be identified in texts and form the writings of Classical authors such as Theophrastus, Dioscoridesand Pliny. The most popular basic oil was balanos and the most widespread the castor oil used by the poor. The Egyptians were fond of strong scents, which they would blend with the case oils and animal fats to form perfumes. It is certain that the modern process of distillation using steam was not known for the extraction of essences, but there were three techniques available for producing perfumes in ancient Egypt from flowers, fruits and seed.

The first of these was enfleurage, the saturation of layer of fat with perfume by steeping flowers in the fat and replacing them when their perfume was spent. In this way the Egyptians were able to crate creams and pomades. A popular form of pomade was the so-called cosmetic cone which was worn on top if the head. They are frequently represented in banqueting scenes, worn not only by the gusts but also by the servants, The cone is usually white with streaks of orange-brown running from it top. The colouring represents the Perfume in ancient Egypt with which the cone was impregnated. As the evening progressed, the cone would melt and the scented oil run down over the wig and garment , creating a pleasing scent and , no doubt, a sticky mess . Throughout to renew the scent on the cones and the tomb scenes show servants circulating among the gusts, replenishing the perfumed cream.

The second process for creating perfume was maceration , that is dipping flowers, herbs or fruits into fats or oils heated to a temperature of about 65 degrees Celsius. This technique is depicted in a number of tomb scenes. The flowers of fruits were pounded in mortars ad then stirred into the oil, which was kept hot on a fire. The mixture was sieved and allowed to cool. It might then be shaped into balls or cones, or, if liquid, poured into vessels. An alternative process may have been to macerate the flowers in water, cover the vessel with a cloth impregnated with fat and boil the contents of the vessel until all the perfumes in ancient Egypt had evaporated, fixing them in the fat which was then scraped off the cloth, This technique is still used by peoples living beat the source of the Nile.

Thirdly, there was the possibility of expressing the flowers or seeds .This process as borrowed from the manufacture of wine and oil. The material to be pressed was placed in a bag with a stick attached to each end. The sticks were twisted in opposite directions, exerting pressure on the contents. In a more sophisticated from, the was attached to a frame at one end. The other and was held by a stick which was twisted by a group of workmen. This technique was not used often, as most recipes specify either maceration or enfleurage.

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