Science makes huge strides, achieving feats that didn’t seem possible. We have the science to thank for everything we know about the world of the past and of today. From discovering lost to the ages cities to discovering new species and medicines, the possibilities never end.
The same could be said for those who try to recreate smells. Yes, it’s actually a thing. Jay Silverstein and Robert Littman of the University of Hawaii Manoa have been working diligently toward recreating ancient perfumes.
Thmuis in Ancient Egypt surprisingly had places of production where perfumes made 4,500 BC. The two primary scents were named Mendesian and Metopian. During the excavation of the area, remnants of various materials used to create these perfumes.
While that may sound like an odd avenue, they could be dangerously close to unveiling the infamous scent of the one and only Cleopatra. In the remnants, there were old kilns found, called amphorae. In these containers, a residue was recovered from the perfume that is believed to be the very scent Cleopatra herself wore.
While the actual smell of the residue found in the amphorae has not retained the original scent, thanks to modern advancements, they were able to recreate a brand-new bottle of it. After examination and analysis, they were able to detect certain ingredients used in the amphorae chemically.
Taking what they know about the era when it comes to ancient Greek texts and accompanying it with their newfound discovery, they believe they may have done it—recreate the perfume Cleopatra wore.
While they aren’t entirely satisfied, they are as close as they possibly can be for now. Getting the precise recreation would be a far-fetched feat, but it might be possible.
You may wonder how it would smell. What pleases our senses seemed to change over time. Recreating a perfume that was produced in days when hygiene was not at its pinnacle may have you questioning things.
On the contrary, the researchers claim it has a vibrant, spiced smell that long outlasts modern perfumes. While it may not be everyday wear, it may be interesting to sample. Some of the elements used are Myrrha, cinnamon, olive oil, and cardamom. You probably have a few of these in your own home.
While the researchers are hot on the trail, the search remains until they can be guaranteed. While this is almost exact to what was produced in the amphorae, it is speculated the Cleopatra would have taken her creative spin on the scent, making it a signature scent unable to be replicated.
It is said Cleopatra would have her subjects pour the perfume on the sails of her ship so that Marc Antony could smell her coming before her ship was in sight.
While modern days may never know the pure aroma of Cleopatra, you can get a small example of what humans in Egypt smelled like in ancient times. The rebirth of this fragrance will be presented at the “Queens of Egypt” exhibition at the National Geographic Museum.