Perfumery of the West
Selected list of recreated fragrances:
• Late Bronze Age (Pylos, based on linear B script texts) - rose-scented, imported by the Assyrians in huge amounts.
• Middle Minoan (Crete, based on extant sample) - floral with anise and carnations.
• Late Minoan (excavations in Tourloti, based on extant sample) - white wormwood and labdanum.
• Perfume based on an extant sample from Mochlos (extant sample found in an amphora at Mochlos, Crete, dated to ~1500 BCE (Late Minoan IB)). A sweet linden flower fragrance.
• Scented pink powder from Cyprus (based on gift/trade exchange between Egypt’s Old Kingdom / early Middle Kingdom and Cyprus, the scent itself is based on plant used on Cyprus at that time as no extant recipe survived). A light pink powder scented with rose, labdanum and oakmoss.
• Two fumigations for treatment of "wandering womb" by Hippocrates of Cos, included in two volumes of "Diseases of Women"
Ingredients for one of the Hippocrates of Cos' fumigations: true cinnamon, castoreum (secretion from beaver glands), and terebinth resin (Pistacia atlantica)
• The King of Parthia’s perfume version 1 (Pliny the Elder) - extravagant oriental scent, civilized a little bit.
• King of Parthia’s version 2 (Avesta and other literary sources) - oriental, true to the description of the 'Parthians reeking of perfume, dyed orange-red with alkanet.
• Etruscan ointment from Chiusi (based on extant sample) - very fresh scent.
• ‘My myrrh, my cinnamon’ Roman perfume based on name mentioned by Pliny the Elder and ingredients described by Theophratus and Dioscorides (Pliny 'forgot' to list ingredients) - warm scent, dyed yellow with saffron.
• Susinum - classic lily scent, recommended for men as after-shave by Pliny the Elder.
• Late Gallo-Roman perfume (based on one of the first analysis of extant sample) - thyme and mint with terebinth, cinnamon bark and rose.
• Late Gallo-Roman perfume version 1.2 (based on one of the first analysis of extant sample) - pine resin, frankincense, thyme and mint with terebinth and rose.
• Rhodides (rose beads made according to the Dioscorides recipe). Spicy with a hint of musky Indian nard and costus.
Rhodides beads made into necklace with faux red coral beads. The beads are strung on temporary thread when still moist to prevent breakage.
• Telinon (fenugreek oil made according to the Dioscorides recipe).
• Krocinon (saffron perfume made according to the Dioscorides recipe).
• Metopion (classic Egyptian perfume, based on Dioscorides recipe).
• Nardinon muron version 1.2 (based on Dioscorides recipe) – spicy musky scent with Indian nard
• Nardinon muron version 2 (based on Dioscorides recipe) – spicy musky scent with patrinia
• Nardinon muron version 3 (based on Dioscorides recipe) – spicy musky scent with garden valerian
• Nardinon muron version 4 (based on Dioscorides recipe) – spicy musky scent with Indian valerian
• Rhodinon (rose oil perfume made according to Dioscorides recipe, translation by Lily Beck)
Making the rose-scented rhodinon oil: preparing the oil to be receptive (astringent) by stypsis*, rose petals with removed white (base) parts, seven batches of fragrant rose petals were used consecutively to macerate in oil, and decanting the oil dyed with alkanet before transferring to storage container.
*Stypsis - preparing oil for accepting other scents by removing the original oil odor. Oil is gently heated with resin-rich wine mixed with aromatics like coriander, camel grass, sweet flag or nut grass until the original odor is removed. This process is often repeated until the satisfactory effect is achieved. Then the plant matter is removed by filtering, and the oil is decanted to separate the water and oil phases. Only oil is used for perfume-making, and any water remains are carefully removed since it accelerates spoilage. Prepared oil is has longer shelf life than raw oil and more readily accept scents.
• 'Intoxicating violets' - Sasanian scent, with violet leaf, lesser calamint and agarwood. Heavy floral scent.
• Metrodora's recipe #58 - based on a 5th century medical text from Byzantium, with sweet notes of rose, carnations and mastic.
• Metrodora's recipes # 57 (version 1.0) - based on a 5th century medical text from Byzantium, with spikenard, cinnamon and saffron notes.
• Metrodora's recipes # 57 (version 1.2) - based on a 5th century medical text from Byzantium, with spikenard, cassia and costus notes, very earthy and musky scent.
• Oenantharium mesopotamenum according to Paulus Aegineta. Cassia, myrrh, lily, costus and Indian bay leaf in fragrant wine. Flowery heavy scent.
• Oenantharium according to Paulus Aegineta. Costus, Indian nard, plai, meadowsweet and lily in fragrant wine. Herbal-flowery scent.
• Metrodora’s deodorant recipe # 56 - rose and myrrh.
• Incense made according to Metrodora's recipe # 57. Costus, frankincense, sweetgum and Indian nard. Heavy oriental scent.
• Incense made according to Metrodora's recipe # 58. Rose, mastic, cardamon, carnations and cinnamon. Sweet flowery scent.
• Incense made in "Saracen" style.
After 10th century, the Arabic texts were translated into Greek and circulated within Empire. Many of the early Islamic caliphates’ fragrances can be made as ‘Saracen’ perfume.
• Suffimentum rosatum according to Paulus Aegineta. Incense made with costus, black cardamon, cassia, Indian myrrh, oak moss and rose. Sweet floral scent.
• Suffimentum liliaceum according to Paulus Aegineta. Incense made with lily, Indian nard, costus, burnt onycha, cloves and honey. Heavy floral scent.
Perfuming the body in Byzantium - the setup
• Secreti di Isabella Cortese (16th century Italy) recipe # 187 – ‘’Perfect royal oil’’
Rich sweetgum notes blended with agarwood, cloves, musk and ambergris in sweet almond oil. Oriental scent.
• Hugo Platt’s ‘’Rosa solis’’ or ‘’Aqua Solis” (early 17th century England, 1604).
Rosehips, cinnamon, ginger and rose blended with musk and ambergris in a grain alcohol base. Flowery spicy scent (second version started as infusion in Malbec wine and later distilled).
• Hugo Platt’s ‘’Stevens Aqua Composita” (early 17th century England, 1604).
Lavender, rose, Spanish chamomile, German chamomile, and rosemary blended with musk and ambergris in a grain based alcohol. Very fresh herbal scent.
• Perfumed leather gloves according to "The Treasurie of Commodious Conceits" by John Partridge, 1573.
• Monsieur Liebaut recipe from page 379 ‘’On beautification of human body’’ (France, 2nd half of 16th century), to be used as 1:12 dilution in rose water.
Sweetgum, Siam benzoin, agarwood, camphor, all blended with ambrette seeds and civet in rose water base. Very camphorous scent.
•Monsieur Liebaut damask (musk) water recipe from page 379 (‘top recipe’) from ‘’On beautification of human body’’ (France, 2nd half of 16th century).
Distilled in rose water base, with ambrette seeds, cloves, civet tincture, agarwood and muskrat tincture. Pleasant light scent.
• Monsieur Liebaut recipe from page 380 ‘’On beautification of human body’’ (France, 2nd half of 16th century).
Elderflower, lavender, carnations, rose, rosemary, citron, nutmeg, sage and cassia blended with musk in a grain alcohol base. Very pleasant flowery oriental fragrance.
• Monsieur Liebaut recipe from page 381 ‘’On beautification of human body’’ (France, 2nd half of 16th century).
Lavender, elderflower, mint, lemon balm, citron, and cloves blended with musk in a rose water and grain alcohol base. Fresh flowery oriental scent.
• Magistro Guasparino’s recipe # 155 (late 14th century Italy).
Sweet flag, agarwood, Indian bay leaf, juniper berry and terebinth in an olive oil base. Fresh herbal scent.
• Magistro Guasparino’s recipe # 138 (late 14th century Italy).
Carnations, lily, saffron, labdanum, costus and mastic resin in sesame oil base. Heavy flowery oriental fragrance.
• Olio di nardino from Ricettario fiorentino 1498 (Late 15th century Italy)
Lavender, marjoram, agarwood, camel grass and green cardamom in sesame oil base. Herbal scent.
• Olio di Gugliemo Piacentino from Ricettario Fiorentino 1498 (Late 15th century Italy)
Cinnamon , terebinth, agaric, cloves buds and stems, musk root, galbanum, bee glue, frankincense and mastic resin in olive oil base. Heavy oriental scent.
•Fragrant pomander beads from 13th, 14th and 15th century Italian city-states, made according to recipes in extant medical texts.
Pomander bead made according to recipe attributed to Giovanni Santa Sofia, 14th century Padua/Bologna
Pomander bead made according to recipe attributed to Iohannis Petrus de Ferarius, 15th century Ferrara
• "Alipta muscata" – European descendant of sukk and frequent ingredient in materia medica based on recipe from “Bullein bulwarke against all sicknesse” from 1579 edition. This is a compound ingredient used the pomander against plague
Labdanum, sweetgum, agarwood, deer musk replacement (musk mallow seeds and muskrat tincture), ambergris replacement and Borneo camphor. Very heavy spicy scent.
• Pomander against the plague – a recipe from 16th century English translation by Thomas Payer of French Materia by Jean Goeurot “Regimen of life”
Orange rind, cinnamon, cloves, "alipta muscata", nutmeg, benzoin and Borneo camphor. Very musky and camphorous scent.
Making the pomander against plague: melting sweetgum and beeswax, working the ground aromatics and melted sweetgum into thick paste (with help of fragrant Malvasia wine), adding the ground Borneol camphor as last ingredient to preserve its cooling properties, and forming large spheres after mixing melted beeswax into the paste.
Pomander should fit comfortably in the palm of the hand. "Hold pomander in hand when venturing outside in times of the plague. Remember to smell it quite often!!!"
THIS IS NOT A MODERN MEDICAL TREATMENT