History of perfume
The world's first-recorded chemist is considered a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics, then filtered and put them back in the still several times.
In 2003, archaeologists uncovered what are believed to be the world's oldest surviving perfumes in Pyrgos, Cyprus. The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years. They were discovered in an ancient perfumery, a 300-square-meter (3,230 sq ft) factory housing at least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels, and perfume bottles. In ancient times people used herbs and spices, such as almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, and bergamot, as well as flowers. In May 2018, an ancient perfume “Rodo” (Rose) was recreated for the Greek National Archaeological Museum's anniversary show “Countless Aspects of Beauty”, allowing visitors to approach antiquity through their olfaction receptors.
The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose. Until his discovery, liquid perfumes consisted of mixtures of oil and crushed herbs or petals, which made a strong blend. Rose water was more delicate, and immediately became popular. Both the raw ingredients and the distillation technology significantly influenced western perfumery and scientific developments, particularly chemistry.
The art of perfumery was known in western Europe from 1221, taking into account the monks' recipes of Santa Maria delle Vigne or Santa Maria Novella of Florence, Italy. In the east, the Hungarians produced in 1370 a perfume made of scented oils blended in an alcohol solution – best known as Hungary Water – at the behest of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary. The art of perfumery prospered in Renaissance Italy, and in the 16th century the personal perfumer to Catherine de' Medici (1519–1589), Rene the Florentine (Renato il fiorentino), took Italian refinements to France. His laboratory was connected with her apartments by a secret passageway, so that no formulae could be stolen en route. Thanks to Rene, France quickly became one of the European centers of perfume and cosmetics manufacture. Cultivation of flowers for their perfume essence, which had begun in the 14th century, grew into a major industry in the south of France.
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, perfumes were used primarily by the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from infrequent bathing. In 1693, Italian barber Giovanni Paolo Feminis created a perfume water called Aqua Admirabilis, today best known as eau de cologne; his nephew Johann Maria Farina (Giovanni Maria Farina) took over the business in 1732.
By the 18th century the Grasse region of France, Sicily, and Calabria (in Italy) were growing aromatic plants to provide the growing perfume industry with raw materials. Even today, Italy and France remain the center of European perfume design and trade.