Since ancient times, mankind considered aromas to have divine and magical powers. With a blooming branch of peach, shamans drove out spirits, illnesses and evil.
In ancient Greece and Rome the main purpose of aromas was fumigation of rooms. The aroma was obtained from wood resins, mixing them with various oils. Greeks brought new exotic flavors from their travels. Popular aromas were sandalwood, camphor, geranium, musk, ambergris, saffron, rose water and aloe. In Rome smells were believed to have healing powers, and the Egyptians used fragrant ointments and aromatic oils in various ceremonies.
With the conquest of Europe the magic power of smells was forgotten for a while. During this period the flowering of perfumery in the East begins. A considerable contribution to the development of aromas was made by the Arabs and Persians. They found a way to distill alcohol. Since then herbs were preserved in alcohol and stored in flasks.
The Crusades and the development of trade relations with the Islamic world contributed to the fact that the European nobility finally discovered the useful properties of aromas. Venice becomes the capital of perfumery, a center of processing spices from the East. Fragrances travelled from Italy to France and after that appeared around the whole Europe. By that time they were used for hygienic and religious purposes.
In the second half of 14th century liquid perfumes based on alcohol and essential oils appeared. According to the legend, the first fragrant water based on rosemary was given by the monk to Queen of Hungary Elizabeth as a potion against serious illness. After drinking this flower water the queen recovered.
Perfumed gloves came into fashion in 16th century. During Renaissance the use of aromas is gaining more and more popularity. With their help European aristocrats masked unpleasant odors.
In 1608, in Florence, in the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria Novella the world’s first perfume factory was created. The perfumer monks were patronized by the dukes, princes, and even the Pope himself.
In 1709 the Frenchman Jean-Marie Farina, who traded spices in Cologne, first launched the fragrant water called “Cologne Water”. It was introduced to France in the second half of 18th century and was called eau de cologne. Emperor Napoleon was so fond of the new fragrance that he was buying up to 60 bottles every month!
In the XIX century the manufacture of perfumes ceased to be artisanal; gradually their production moved to perfume factories