Scent of the Roman Empire: archaeologists found 2,000-year-old perfume

Researchers from the University of Cordoba discovered in the province of Seville, in the Roman city of Carmo, an amphora-shaped vessel that contained an ointment used by the Romans as perfume. The discovery of this vessel was a real discovery for archaeologists, as they were able to “smell” the Roman Empire.

The vessel was found in a collective tomb with several urns, each perfectly sealed. Members of a wealthy family were buried in them. One glass urn contained the remains of a woman in her 40s, ritual supplies, three amber beads, and a small flask of rock crystal carved in the shape of an amphora. It contained an ointment.

The vessel itself was made of blown glass and sealed with bitumen. After “unpacking,” scientists used techniques to study the composition of the perfume, including X-ray diffraction, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Scientists concluded that Roman perfumes consisted of two components: a base, which preserves the fragrance, and a fragrant essence. The base was olive oil and the essence was a mixture of patchouli flower oil, essential oil and the oil of the Indian plant Pogostemon cablin, which is widely used in modern perfumery.

Experts note that the use of such oils in ancient Rome was not previously known to science. The found vessel is a very valuable and expensive product.

The study of ancient perfumes allowed archaeologists to learn more about the life and customs of ancient Rome. Also, this discovery may be the basis for the creation of new fragrances in the perfume industry.

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