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What is the real history of perfume?

Bottles of essential oil with dried rose petals, chamomile, calendula and frankincense Bottles of essential oil with dried rose petals, chamomile, calendula and frankincense resin on a wooden table perfume stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

The roots of the word "perfume" are "per" meaning "through" and "fumum" meaning "smoke" suggesting that the first perfume was pleasant smells obtained by burning woods and grass, etc. Neanderthal man was probably the earliest human to discover the pleasant smells obtained by burning fragrant woods.

Since the earliest times, humankind has searched for plant and animal sources of medicines with which to relieve sickness and suffering. There must have been many fragrant materials amongst these materials which gradually came into use as natural perfumes from plants and animals. Clearly, medicines and perfumes originated from the same origins.

The early Romans had the first culture to enjoy perfumes themselves and they use rose water extensively after bathing. The city of ancient Rome was lined with shops selling perfumes.

With the establishment of the early stages, many cultures shared the tradition of making supplications to their Gods by burning fragrant herbs and woods. The desire to use pleasant perfumes taken from fragrant flowers and fruits was common to most people irrespective of region or season. In the 11th century, Islamic alchemists invented steam distillation methods and discovered how to concentrate and separate ethyl alcohol which played an important role in the development of the culture of perfume.

The medical period was a "Dark Ages" as far as perfumes are considered and little is known about their use except that some medicinal plants were grown in monastery herb gardens.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the technology for manufacturing natural perfumes was developed. The late 19th century saw progress in the synthesis of aroma chemicals, and the 20th century has brought a wealth of fragrances and perfumes.


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