Scientists have recreated a similar fragrance to the perfume that Cleopatra used and made many men become enamored with her, including Julius Caesar and then Marc Anthony. The reconstruction was possible through the analysis and combination of diverse historical recipes.
According to Blaise Pascal, the modern face of the world would be significantly different if Cleopatra had a shorter nose. Many have argued that it was her beauty and not her intelligence that made so many people fall in love with her, including some of the most prevailing men in history.
However, it is also important to give some credit to her perfume, which was characterized as being quite enticing. What would have happened if things were different?
Even if it is impossible to answer the question, now we have an overall idea of what Cleopatra’s favorite perfume smelled like. Or at least an approximation of what such an enticing scent would have been.
The history of Egypt is characterized due to the many special fragrances it created. The Egyptians had been practicing this art for more than 3,000 years during the times of Cleopatra VII.
When she died, a book with all the recipes credited to the royal appeared. And now, after 2,000 years, scientists have tried to “replicate” such a process and the ingredients, according to a report published via Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA).
Such a book is written in hieroglyphics, whose meaning has been lost in time. Some information is known, such as the name of the oils used in certain rites, but the composition of such substances is unknown. While Greek and Roman are relatively easier to translate, that information is not reliable as the perfume makers were not the authors.
Recently, archaeologists discovered what seems to be an ancient perfume factory at Thmouis, which has brought some hope. Thmouis was considered an Extension of Mendes, a location with widely popular perfumes in the Mediterranean. The site had several ceramic perfume containers, so it may be possible that they were meant for commercial use.
The researchers analyzed the molecules inside the jars and the Nile silt used to produce the containers with X-ray fluorescence.
Dr. Dora Goldsmith of Freie Universitat Berlin and Dr. Sean Coughlin of Humboldt- Universitat Zu Berlin conducted tests on several potential substances trying to discover a scent so attractive that it fits a royal.
It is very unlikely for Cleopatra’s exact perfume to be discovered. Still, the National Geographic Museum’s Queens of Egypt invited visitors to sniff an approximation of what its authors call “Eau de Cleopatra” in 2019.
According to researchers, the product was likely more than a nice fragrance. It may have had antifungal and antibacterial properties that suppressed unpleasant odors, allowing the bearer to shine at any moment.
This research is part of a growing field that aims to recreate ancient scents. According to ScienceNews, the work focuses on different types of scents, including artificial fragrances and less pleasant odors. Goldsmith intends to create “smellscapes” of ancient Egyptian cities, including the royal facilities and even the workshops where different items were crafted, like sandals or weapons.
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