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When we smell a particular fragrance, such as, say, clean laundry or a fresh peach,

we instantly and unconsciously connect that smell to a portion of our memory. Smell
can evoke feelings and bring back memories that we forgot we had. Perfume is, quite
simply, a mastery of some of the most frequent scents, and the artful combination
thereof to produce a unique smell for an individual person. To understand perfume,
we would need to start at its inception, back in the time of the ancient Egyptians.

Origins & History

Egyptians were responsible for the origin of perfume. They utilized scents in
everything from religious ceremonies to burial preparations and even daily wear.
The rich elites of Egyptian society, male and female alike, would adorn themselves
with aromas like lily to denote their status. The Persians took over the use of
perfume as a sign of political status, 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.
Perfume slowly spread throughout the globe, and for a while, scents were reserved
mainly for use in religious ceremonies. However, in 1190, perfume began to be
produced commercially in Paris, and from there, it blossomed into a massive
industry once more.

Perfumed Textiles (PDF) – Scent is an irreplaceable part of life. It played a major


role in historical life as well, and Katia Johansen explains in this paper from the
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, how she went about it and what she learned from
her research about the rich history of scent.
Coco Chanel, No. 5 & History's Scent – What made No. 5 so popular – and what's the
story behind its creator? Discover the history behind one of the most famous scents
in history with this radio story from WBUR.
From Industry to Luxury: French Perfume in the 19th Century (PDF) – Perfume has
been an industry since the time of the Romans, but what was it that elevated
perfume to a symbol of true luxury? Find out here in this paper from Harvard
Business School.
Lydion Perfume Jar – The design of a perfume's container wasn't a 20th century
invention. Take a look at one of the earliest "iconic" perfume containers from the
6th century BC, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Body Arts: Scent – We know how perfume is marketed today, but how did the Egyptians
tackle the problem? Take a peek at an ancient Egyptian perfume bottle, and compare
it to its modern cousins in this short but sweet article from the PittRivers
Museum.
How Perfume is Made

The Egyptians used to create ointments and balms with essential oils mixed in to
provide scent. Today's perfume, however, utilizes a much more complex method of
preparation. The desired scents, in specific quantities, are combined with either
ethanol or ethanol and water. The concentration of the scent depends on what kind
of perfume is being made. True perfume, for example, may have a composition of up
to 40% of scent material. Eau de Parfum will only have up to 20% of scent material
in its mixture, resulting in a lighter, more subtle aroma. It all depends on the
desired perfume profile and the scents that the perfumer wants to include.

Smells Like Julius Caesar: Recreating Fragrances – Aside from providing a recipe
for Roman perfume, this article from Science in School covers how perfumes were
made, what some of the most common ingredients were, and how to reproduce a Roman
perfume in your own home. If you're interested in historical scents, this is an
article not to be missed!
The Role of a Perfume Chemist (PDF) – There is a surprising amount of chemistry
behind perfume, especially those produced synthetically. The Royal Society of
Chemistry offers you a peek inside a perfumer's lab – and job – with this interview
of Judith Gregory, a senior perfume chemist.
Perfume, in This Case, 'Made by Nose' – Perfumers are a unique breed of
professionals. Get to know one of the up-and-coming greats, Roja Dove, in this
article from the New York Times.
Types of Perfume

True perfume, as discussed above, is a highly concentrated mixture of scent. The


next "step" down from perfume is Esprit de Parfum, which is comprised of up to 30%
of aromatics. Eau de Toilette will never have more than a 15% concentration. As to
whether a scent appeals more to a male or female demographic, the identifier is in
the fragrance notes. The most common fragrance families are floral, chypre (scents
like bergamot), oceanic, citrus, fruit, and gourmand (scents like vanilla and
honey), and a perfume is defined by the concentration and dominance of its
contained scent notes.

Sniff Out the Right Scent – Understanding the history of perfume is one thing;
using that knowledge to help select a scent of your own is another. Learn about the
seven basic types of perfume and how to understand the notes of a fragrance with
this terrific guide from SheKnows.com.
The Difference Between All-Natural and Chemical-Based Fragrances – Why would
perfumers choose synthetic scents over those naturally acquired? The Learning
Channel has an article that explains some of the pros and con

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