Scented materials are an essential part of human culture. In Assyrian Nineveh, frankincense would be sacrificed to the sun god Baal, in Egypt, spikenard oil was placed in the tomb of Tutankhamun, and in biblical Israel, balsam was used for anointing. The beautiful Cleopatra's talents for perfumery have passed into legend. The Arabs first distilled the famous rose oil and used both musk and ambergris as medicines, while ambergris also found a different role - as did 'virtuous medicinal butter' - as an aphrodisiac in ancient India. In China, the use of incense for interior perfuming is praised in the works of Confucius - all the great cultures of the world have their scent traditions, some of them millennia old.
Gunther Ohloff, renowned expert on fragrances, guides us through these and collects together the ingredients and recipes used in our world's high cultures for the preparation of bewitching perfumes, ritual incenses, or soothing oils and ointments. Our journey takes us from the ancient traditions of Mesopotamia to the perfumes of the present, from Europe to East Asia. In "Earthly Scents - Heavenly Pleasures: A Cultural History of Scents", Dr. Ohloff presents a fascinating chapter in cultural history.