Romans and Essential Oils
History shows that the Romans fumigated their temples and political buildings with essential oils and their soldiers are reported to have used aromatic oils on themselves before going into battle to bolster their courage.
The Romans used three kinds of perfumes-solid unguents, scented oils and powdered perfumes to fragrance their hair, their bodies and their clothes and beds. The solid unguents included rhodium, which was rose scented and narcissum, from narcissus flowers.
Their most popular scented oils included susinum, which was made from honey, calamus, cinnamon, myrrh, and saffron, and nardinum composed of calamus, cistus, cardamon, melissa, spikenard, and myrrh.
These blends were very expensive and only the wealthy could afford them. They were what we would refer to today as “signature perfumes.”
It was reported that the Roman Emperor Nero commanded that an entire year’s production of frankincense be burned at the funeral of his wife, Sabina Poppae. An entire fleet of ships was used solely to transport frankincense from Arabia to Rome.
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