In what concerns the use of perfumes and fragrant unguents or fumigation rituals the path of choice lands us firmly on the land of the Pharaohs, the Eastern Mediterranean and the progeny that follows these traditions into the more recent Arab and Florentine technological interventions that account for the first glimpses of modern perfumery. To Egypt then, for starters.
|Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928) Cleopatra on the Terraces of Philae|
If we all have Cleopatra and her scented barge popping into our minds, thanks to pop culture and Shakespeare, at the mere hint of Egypt in relation to fragrances, we're not to blame. Such was the identification of Egypt with perfume production from time immemorial, despite other ancient civilizations dabbling in perfume making in an equal degree, that during Julius Caesar's Roman triumphs, alabastra (aromatic essence holding vials, the term being alabastron/αλάβαστρον in Greek due to the material used to make them, i.e. alabaster) were tossed to the crowd to demonstrate his mastery over Egypt.
Please read the rest of my article on ancient fragrant practices in the milieu of the Eastern Mediterranean (including the references from the ancient writers) on this link on Fragrantica. Part 2 to follow.