There’s a touch of mystery and intrigue in the history of fragrances. You sense it the moment you read about historic perfumers whose existence dates back to as far as 1200 BCE. The enchanting and captivating world of ancient perfumery unravels with the archaeological findings made by the modern man. One such fascinating era is the Mesopotamian Era – the first ever recorded time wherein the art of perfumery found its inception.
The Mesopotamian Era
The discovery of an ancient clay cuneiform tablet dates the existence of perfumery back to 1200 BCE. The ancient script talks about Taputti-Belatekallim, the world’s first recorded chemist and perfume maker who held a powerful role in the Mesopotamian government. Her title as AuBelateKallilm meant an overseer of the royal Mesopotamian household. Her spellbinding perfume making technique enchanted the Mesopotamian Royals and earned her name in history forever.
Taputti didn’t just create perfumes, she held a powerful role in the Mesopotamian administration. The mere mention of her name and title on an ancient tablet stands proof of the role of women in that era. Working within the Royal palace, she created fragrances using flowers, oils, calamus, cyperus, myrrh and balsam. Using her skills as a chemist, she developed methods of scent extraction, distillation and the use of solvents that laid the foundation for perfume making.
Taputti’s revolutionary techniques of distillation, cold effleurage and scent extraction were highly regarded even centuries later as they laid the cornerstone of modern perfume making. Her use of solvents made scents brighter, lighter and longer lasting than any other perfume oil of that era. By blending oils, essence and resins, she mixed them with distilled water and grain alcohol to create something similar to modern perfumes.
Role of Perfumes in Mesopotamian Era
Taputti’s recorded techniques are the oldest referenced in the world of perfumery. Perfumes in that era served a medicinal and religious purpose as they were perceived as a bond between the mortal and the divine. Mesopotamian Royals soaked their bodies in perfume oil as a sign of divinity and also used it for embalming purposes. Besides nobility, perfumes were also used for pure pleasure to entice the senses.
Watch this space for more on perfume history and their role in the ancient era of perfumery.