The five senses are as follows: sound, sight, touch, taste and of course SMELL! 

With smell being one of the major contributing factors of what we as humans experience on a daily, minute-to-minute, second-to-second basis — it is only natural that humans have spent much of history adorning ourselves in pleasant aromas. 

Today a major part of the beauty and fashion industry, perfume is a valuable ingredient in product marketing. As a matter of fact, a quality smell has the power to make you feel seductive, beautiful, confident, amazing, and recall memories. From spraying stores to mixing them into makeup, these days perfume is everywhere. 

But, have you ever stopped to wonder where perfume originated? 

Truthfully, it has an interesting story. No, it hasn’t always been around, but it has been around for a very, very long time.

The History Of Perfume

To understand the history of perfume and find out who invented perfume, we must take a journey back to ancient times.

Although it is hard to tell exactly who invented perfume — what we can tell you for sure is that perfume use was first recorded in the North-East region of Africa and the Middle-East – Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt to be exact.

Beginning our journey in the hot desert-like state of Mesopotamia, here — modern-day Iraq — is where the earliest record of perfumery was found. “The first perfume maker on record was a woman chemist named Tapputi. Stories about her have been found on a clay tablet from Mesopotamia, dating back to the second millennium BC.” However, it is hard to say much about what this civilization used it for. 

Now jumping across the Red Sea, in Ancient Egypt we can tell you exactly what perfume was used for. 

Mainly used for religious ceremonies, “the priests filled their prayers with perfumes, which they made themselves, using very strong odors that favored the elevation of the spirit: myrrh, rosemary resin, galbanum, frankincense, lahdan. Very early in the morning, each priest proceeded to the cleaning of the divine statues, anointing them with ointments and making up their faces and those of the statues. Thus they believed to obtain the protection of the gods and ensured the passage to the beyond. Precisely this belief is what explains the practice of embalming: to keep intact the body in perfumed and rotting substances to enter the sky of the Egyptians.” So powerful in religion, “Egyptian mythology even notes the god Nefertem as being the lord of perfume”

Slowly gaining recognition in the Eyptian culture, as time passed perfume began to be used in beauty products.

Due to the hot climate in this area of the world as well as it being a time when the wealthy wanted to be easily distinguished from the poor — perfume was commonly used in expensive beauty products to mask both male and female body odor. “Egyptian women used perfumed creams and oils as toiletries and cosmetics and as preludes to love-making.”

How interesting! It seems that from the beginning of its known history, perfume was thought to draw the attention of otherworldly beings and the opposite sex — just like today.

Now jumping across the Red Sea, in Ancient Egypt we can tell you exactly what perfume was used for.

Then came the spread of fragrances! 

Still in the same general area of the world, as trade routes grew perfume started to travel. Soon ancient Greece, Rome, and the Islamic world began using perfume. 
“The ancient Persians were no less enchanted by fragrance. They ruled the perfume trade for hundreds of years and are credited as the inventors of non-oil based perfume. During the Sassanid period, the production of fragrance and infused waters was quite prevalent.” Many wealthy persians were known to have their own scent — made specifically for them as a symbol of status.

A timeless luxury good, perfume has always been held with the highest regards.  

But, “it wasn’t until the Greeks and Romans became acquainted with it that it began to be viewed as a form of art and produced en masse and in consistent quality. Archaeologists recently uncovered a perfume factory from 2,000 BC, located in Cyprus, which seemed to have specialized in the production of scents like coriander, laurel, myrtle, lavender, and rosemary.” Used for many purposes including preparing for battle, perfume quickly became a lucrative trade in all ancient civilizations. 

Let’s quickly jump forward to today — in the modern world we are actually working to recreate scents from ancient times dating all the way back to 1850 BC. This is because, when Greece and Rome began experimenting with perfumes, they tirelessly recorded every mixture. Aren’t we the luckiest — please douse in a bottle of Cyprus fragrance and transports us back in time!

The height and status of perfume didn’t last. 

“It was the Islamic community that kept the use of perfumes since the spread of Christianity led to a decline in the use of perfume. With the fall of the Roman Empire, perfume’s influence dwindled. It was not until the twelfth century and the development of international trade that this decline was reversed.” With the rise of christianity, for a long period of time, it was looked down upon to portray sexuality and — as we know — that is exactly what perfume does. 

However, always evolving with the times, throughout the middle ages perfume quietly stuck around. 

Taking many forms, from solids to simple dried leaves, people played with fragrance and its uses. “During the bubonic plague, doctors would wear bird-like masks filled with herbs, spices and oils to ward off the sickness. The belief that scented oils and fragrant materials could eliminate the “stench of pestilence” helped grow the popularity of fragrance use in medieval Europe.” 

With a heavy presence in medicinal world of the time, perfume also made a debut in the fashion world.

During the 1600’s “fashion demanded the use of gloves and these should be perfumed. Grasse, a small town in the south of France, manufactured them in large quantities and their guanters then decided to perfume them already in the factory.” It again become instyle to distinguish class with the use of perfume. People were demanding clothing, wigs, furniture as well as their bodies to be scents. And, so was born the — still today — perfume capital of the world. From then on, Grasse pumped out and delivered to all of Europe and the world, perfume.

From there, major scientific advances took the perfume world by storm! 

It all started with the invention of Cologne — originally created to be ingested, “this refreshing blend of rosemary, neroli, bergamot and lemon was used in a multitude of different ways: diluted in bath water, mixed with wine, eaten on a sugar lump, as a mouthwash, an enema or an ingredient for a poultice, injected directly… and so on. The variety of eighteenth-century perfume containers was as wide as that of the fragrances and their uses. Sponges soaked in scented vinaigres de toilette were kept in gilded metal vinaigrettes. Liquid perfumes came in beautiful Louis XIV-style pear-shaped bottles. Glass became increasingly popular, particularly in France with the opening of the Baccarat factory in 1765.”

As you can see, experimentation was at an all time high.

And, with all good experimentation processes things began to change. Standards for how to use and mix perfume as well as packaging started to form. “As alchemy died in pursuit of the birth of chemistry, the art of perfumery evolved markedly by improving distillation and the quality of essences. Using oriental techniques, in Venice they produced the first bottles of blown glass. There, the nose profession began to take on great value”

Coming a long but not so long way from the ancient world, the basics of perfume are still the same as when it was invented — perfumers mix  substances together to create a smell that brings a variety of feelings and thoughts.

Conclusion

The history of perfume sure is an interesting journey. 

And, it is something that doesn’t surprise us. As the powerful sense of smell often drives us as humans it is clear  why perfume was invented in the first place. When we smell something delightful we have a tendency to drift towards it. Coming from ancient times to today, it is pretty incredible that we still use perfume as a symbol of luxury  and self. 

At Dossier the power of perfume is not lost on us. And, experiencing its magic is something that we believe all people should have the ability to do. 

Taking the unimaginable prices out of the perfume industry, it is our mission to deliver top brand inspired scents to you at the price of $29 a bottle. Boasting the same mixtures as your favorite luxury perfume without all the packaging and marketing fluff, Dossier wants to revolutionize the perfume industry one more time by bringing premium perfume to everyone.

To become part of the Dossier revolution shop our perfumes and find the scent the tickles your inner daydreams. Shop at Dossier now.

Learn more at the how it works section on Dosser.co.

References:

  1. https://www.fragrancex.com/blog/history-of-perfume-and-cologne/
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  4. https://www.parfumsraffy.com/perfume-history
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