Skip to main content
Cultural Fragrances

Cultural Fragrances

Perfumes and fragrances can be traced to multiple ancient cultures, most notably to the ancient Egyptian civilization. In fact, Egyptians associated their perfumes with the gods: The fragrances were considered to be the sweat of the sun god, Ra. Given the influences of ancient Egypt on the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations, the use of scents spread throughout the ancient world. Other ancient cultures, such as ancient Iranians and the ancient Chinese, also prized fragrances, though the Chinese used scent in the form of incense instead of perfumes to be worn. Ancient perfume varied in many respects from modern fragrances. In ancient Egypt, frankincense, opopanax, and myrrh were used. Throughout ancient Africa, various scented oils were used as sun protection as well as for their smell. In Mesopotamia and Babylonia, favored scents included cedar, myrrh, frankincense, and cypress. Most of the substances that were the source of scents were plant-based, ranging from flowers to resins and woods. Perfumes and fragrances can be traced to multiple ancient cultures, most notably to the ancient Egyptian civilization. In fact, Egyptians associated their perfumes with the gods: The fragrances were considered to be the sweat of the sun god, Ra. Given the influences of ancient Egypt on the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations, the use of scents spread throughout the ancient world. Other ancient cultures, such as ancient Iranians and the ancient Chinese, also prized fragrances, though the Chinese used scent in the form of incense instead of perfumes to be worn