A 3200-year-old Mesopotamian perfume was recreated by scientists from an ancient recipe

Anita Durairaj

Uruk period administrative tablet, pictographic scriptCredit: Unknown person; Public Domain Image

Scientists have attempted to recreate the perfume that was first created 3200 years ago by the first female perfumer and chemist. Her name was Tapputi and she lived in Mesopotamia around 1200 BC.

Tapputi is considered to be the first chemist in history. She was a perfume-maker who was mentioned in ancient cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia. The tablets contained the formula and the steps she used to produce the perfumes.

Tapputi's perfumes used a combination of different ingredients including flowers, oil, spices, myrrh, balsam, botanical plants, and other ingredients.

Recently, a team of 15 Turkish scientists translated the tablets and researched the ingredients to determine how Tapputi produced and distilled the fragrance.

It took scientists three years to translate the tablets. The translation revealed that Tapputi communed with the moon and the stars while she was producing her fragrances.

It was challenging for scientists to attempt to reproduce Tapputi's perfume because the tablets were broken and important parts of the ingredient list were lost. Also, it was difficult to identify the containers and plants that Tapputi used 3200 years ago as the current names of the spices and flowers were changed.

As for the smell of Tapputi's scents, the scientists have not mentioned what type of fragrance it is but the Fragrance Conservatory claims that her speciality would have been woody scents such as the cedars of Lebanon.

So far, the scientists have only managed to recreate the formual of one of Tapputi's scents. There are still other formulas that are yet to be translated.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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