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The History of Perfumery

People's use of scents, aromas and fragrances has been used for many centuries, and when and why people started to prepare and use them seems lost to us. However, over the years, evidence has been found through archeological findings, as well as texts written by our ancestors, that has shown just how aromas were being used. In the very early civilizations, scented flowers and herbs were used by people to worship the Gods, and when burned, some of these plants would release strong aromas. Such scented fires became part of many religious rituals. In fact, you will find that many religions still use scented fires today. Both the Assyrian's and Egyptians used scented oils. Because of this, the demand for the raw materials needed to produce both fragrances and remedies led to the discovering of new ways of extracting scents from the plants they used. Such techniques as pressing, decoction, pulverization and maceration were developed and mastered by both the Assyrian's and the Egyptians. They even made attempts at trying to produce essential oils by distillation. Slowly, the use of perfumes spread to Greece, where not only were they used in religious ceremonies, but also for personal purposes as well. When the Romans saw what the Greeks were doing, they began to use fragrances even more lavishly. There are many manuscripts around describing the herbs which they brought from all over the world to produce the fragrances they used.
However, as the Roman Empire fell, so the use of aromas for personal use began to decline. However, during the Middle Ages, perfumes again were being used only in churches in Europe for religious ceremonies and to cover the stench caused by the many diseases which abounded at this time. Then when trade with the Orient was reestablished at the beginning of the 13 th Century, exotic flowers, herbs and spices became more readily available around Europe. Venice quickly became the center of the perfume trade. It was not long before perfumery soon spread to other European countries. The perfume trade then developed even further, as those returning from the crusades reintroduced perfume for personal use. However by the late 18 th Century, the synthetic material fragrance was being produced, and this was the beginning of perfumery in the modern age. Thus with the introduction of synthetics, perfumes would no longer be exclusively used by the rich and famous. Also, because synthetics were now being used to produce perfumes, they could now be made on a much larger scale, although naturals were still also being used to help soften the synthetics. Today, natural products still remain a very important part of the production of perfumes in modern formulations. But today, more and more people are turning away from the industrial techniques of producing perfume, and preferring to make it themselves instead. But for many people making their own perfumes, not only is it easy to do, but it is also a great source of pleasure and fun for them.