Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, April 26, 2009

TutankhamunPerfume JarThis is a story from a month or so ago but I'm just catching up on it now. National Geographic reports that scientists are intending to analyse and recreate Hatcshepsut's perfume.

A perfume bottle, 4.7"/12cm high, with Hatshepsut's throne name has survived and is in the Ägyptisches Museum, Universität Bonn. There's a picture in the National Geographic article. I don't like the National Geographic site which splits the article across 3 pages to maximise the adverts shown, and even the writing style irritates me, but it's worth persisting as the third page pictures X-rays of the interior of the jar. The perfume bottle is sealed. It also has a very thin neck so the team believe it should be possible to remove only a very tiny amount of the residue preserved in the bottle.

The Germans are theorising what the contents may contain but the two strongest possibilities are incenses (plants were brought back from the famous expedition to the Land of Punt) and spikenard. Spikenard was used in temple perfumes but also was determined as the base of a perfume found in one of the jars in Tutankhamun's tomb - the beautiul alabaster perfume jar from the pharaoh's tomb is shown above. There is also a relief on a column at Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple (picture) showing a perfume bearer. Two jars are a totally different shape (widest just below a short neck). The centre of the image is slightly unclear but seems to show a jar of the same shape as the one in Bonn.

When I've more time raised eyebrows I want to study perfumes in more detail: there's an overlap of two interests when it comes to Ancient Egyptian perfumes. They also can reveal something about trading patterns. I'm looking forward to the findings of the Bonn team.

Photograph © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, 2002 published in Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0. Please visit his site.

6 comments:

Brian Miller said...

so maybe this is Chanel No, 1. lol. interesting tidbits.

Judith Weingarten said...

A little more information in my post Hatshepsut Smells as Sweet at Zenobia: Empress of the East.

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