Researchers re-create the perfume of Egyptian queen Cleopatra

Updated 12 August 2019

Researchers re-create the perfume of Egyptian queen Cleopatra

  • Team uncovers evidence of perfume industry in Thmuis
  • Fragrance reproduced with ancient formula using myrrh

DUBAI: If you have ever wondered what perfume Cleopatra used, then two professors from the University of Hawaii at Manoa may have an answer for you.

After finding ancient perfume containers in Thmuis, an ancient Egyptian city in the Nile Delta also referred to as Tell Timai, professor Robert Littman and adjunct professor Jay Silverstein approached two experts on ancient Egyptian fragrances to recreate the legendary queen’s perfume.

Researchers Dora Goldsmith and Sean Coughlin reproduced the fragrance with the help of ancient Greek formulas from myrrh, a natural gum extracted from the small and thorny tree species.

“What a thrill it is to smell a perfume that no one has smelled for 2,000 years and one which Cleopatra might have worn,” Littman said.

The perfume is part of an exhibition by the National Geographic society, titled “Queens of Egypt,” in Washington, DC, where it will remain until Sept. 15.

Littman and Silverstein stumbled upon historic evidence of the ancient fragrance industry during excavations in Thmuis. The city is considered to be the hub of some of the most famous perfumes during ancient times.

The professors uncovered a variety of kilns from the third century BCE, which were used to produce fine lekythoi, or perfume bottles. The kilns themselves were made from imported clays.

During the excavations in 2012, the professors discovered a liquid manufacturing area and a stockpile of gold and silver coins near kilns. The discovery suggests it may have been the house of a perfume merchant.

 


Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

Updated 5 min ago

Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

  • New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths
  • Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing

DUBAI: A wedding party contributed to a new surge in coronavirus infections in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday but insisted the country had no option but to keep its economy open despite warnings of a second wave of the epidemic.
Iran, which has been gradually relaxing its lockdown since mid-April, has reported a sharp rise of new daily infections in recent days. Thursday’s toll of 3,574 new cases was the highest since February, when the outbreak was first reported.
“At one location, we witnessed a peak in this epidemic, the source of which was a wedding that caused problems for the people, health workers and losses to the economy and the country’s health system,” Rouhani said on state TV. He did not say when or where the wedding took place.
New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths.
Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing. One official said about 70% of the new cases in Tehran were among those who had traveled outside the capital in recent days.
Iran has been struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19 but authorities are concerned that measures to limit public and economic life to contain the virus could wreck an already economy already reeling under international sanctions.
“In these circumstances, we have no other choice — that is, there is no second option,” Rouhani added. “We have to work, our factories have to be active, our shops have to be open, and there has to be movement in the country as far as it is necessary.”
Iranian universities reopened on Saturday after being closed for more than three and a half months, state media reported. Nurseries will reopen in a week’s time, when Qur'an and languages classes will also resume, Rouhani said.