Saturday, April 14, 2007

Making History Come Alive In A Most Unusual Way

I found this story, excerpted below, to be exceedingly interesting:

ROME — It's a rare chance to smell the scent of ancient history — typically a mix of natural spices and olive oil — thanks to an exhibit in Rome featuring fragrances from the world's oldest known perfume factory.

On display are four perfumes recreated by a team of archaeologists from 14 original fragrances dating from 4,000 years ago. Digging at the Pyrgos-Mavroraki site in Cyprus, they turned up a complex believed to have been used as a perfume lab.

The archaeologists used fragrances extracted from traces left in containers at the site to recreate ancient aromas with the same techniques used in the past, said Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, the leading archaeologist who discovered the factory in 2003.

"Today, we are used to chemical and alcoholic scents, but these are fresher ones, smelling of herbs and spices, like almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, bergamot — and not flowers," said Belgiorno, who is also the curator of the exhibit at Rome's Capitoline Museums.

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