Italian archaeologists discovered a collection of perfumes dating back to the Bronze Age on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Excavation leader Maria Rosaria Belgiorn of the National Research Council in Rome believes the perfumes date back more than 4,000 years.
Remnants of the perfumes were found inside an ancient 3,230-square-foot (300-square-meter) factory that was part of a larger industrial complex at Pyrgos. It's believed that this 4,000 year-old factory manufactured fragrances for export across the Eastern Mediterranean. The buildings were destroyed during an earthquake in 1850 B.C., but perfume bottles, mixing jugs, and stills were preserved under the collapsed walls.
The buildings also housed an olive press, a winery and a copper smelting works. The scale of the site, and the presence of huge 500-litre oil-storage jars, suggests it was once the centre of a prosperous export business.
The smell of the perfumes is "a nice experience that re-creates in our mind a sort of ancestral reminder," Belgiorn said in an email interview.
The archaeologist added that she doesn't know why the people of Cyprus started making and wearing perfumes 4,000 years ago.
Regardless of how the Cypriot perfumes were used, she believes today's fragrances just don't compare.
"We have lost the real world of natural fragrances," she said, "because most of the perfumes of today are chemical reproductions of the natural fragrances and scents."
(Adapted from BBC News.)