I’m not sure about you, but I’d definitely think twice about taking a whiff of a 3,500 year old mummy. It appears German scientists are a bit more hard nosed.

 

Researchers at Bonn University’s Egyptian Museum have found dregs of perfume that belonged to one of the few female rulers of Ancient Egypt, and plan to try and ‘reconstruct’ the scent.

 

The dried remains of the perfume were discovered in the bottom of a bottle found amongst the possessions of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who died in the 15th century BC. By all accounts a colourful character who relished her position of power, Hatshepsut became temporary ruler of Egypt while her infant step-son was too young to take the helm – but remained in power for 20 years, barring all attempts from her step-son to take his rightful place on the throne.

 

A ruling king or queen in Ancient Eqypt was considered a living god, so Hatshepsut’s perfume would have had to be top of the range. In Ancient Egyptian terms this meant incense – the scent of gods. Other ingredients likely to have featured on the ingredients list include blossoms, fruits and aromatic wood, which would have been immersed in oil until its smell permeated the liquid.

 

 

Museum curator Michael Höveler-Müller with the perfume bottle. [Photo: Frank Luerweg, Universität Bonn]

Museum curator Michael Höveler-Müller with the perfume bottle.
[Photo: Frank Luerweg, Universität Bonn]

 

Hatshepsut eventually died in 1457BC – overweight, diabetic, arthritic and suffering from cancer and osteoporosis. Her mummified remains were discovered by the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter in 1903, but remained anonymous until the advent of DNA analysis allowed her to be identified over 100 years later.

 

With the German researchers hoping to reconstruct Hatshepsut’s perfume, a small part of her may yet be resurrected. I can’t imagine how Eau de Mummy would fare in the in the shops, but perhaps there will be someone out there who would like to see the mummy return - in scent form.

 

To read more about how new scents are created today, read Emma Davies’ article – The sweet scent of success.

 

What smells would you like to see resurrected? What whiffs bring back poignant memories of times gone by? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

Anna Lewcock

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