In the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, located in southeastern Anatolia, a group of perfumers came together to pool their considerable expertise for an ambitious project. Their efforts have allowed the world to rediscover a Mesopotamian perfume that was incredibly popular around 3,200 years ago.
Mesopotamian Perfume: Recreating the Fragrance of the Past to Perfection
This particular perfume, which was highly regarded in the cradle of civilization we so love to study and learn about, is created using endemic plants from the Mesopotamian region. The organizers of the event showcased their selection of fragrances in the captivating and evocative St. George’s Church. But why choose a city like Diyarbakir?
The answer lies in the folds of history. Diyarbakir has, due to its strategically advantageous location, been a significant mercantile center since ancient times. It was one of the primary cities along the so-called Perfume Road, not only because of the olfactory culture that had developed over centuries but also for its role as a vital trade hub.
Diyarbakir retained its economic and commercial significance throughout the flourishing of various civilizations, including the Sumerians, Hittites, Babylonians, and Assyrians. Once a stop on the caravan routes, it transformed into a city known for producing fragrances and perfumes, which traveled both east and west, involving great empires and distant lands – think India, China, as well as the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. Returning to the present, let’s delve into some intriguing details about the perfume we introduced you to.
The specific Mesopotamian perfume that recreates the fragrance from 3,200 years ago goes by the name of Nisaba, an ode to one of the oldest known Sumerian deities. Just as in ancient times, perfumers have bottled these essences in special glass and ceramic containers. Dr. Cenker Atila, an industry expert, oversaw the entire operation, affirming the validity of the process.
Naturally, the project involved extensive historical research, delving into the analysis of ancient methods of production and scent extraction. Adapting to laboratory techniques was a logical progression of the task. Identifying the plants that served as the base for creating these essences millennia ago was no easy feat. However, ultimately, creating Nisaba became possible. This is a project that doesn’t end here – perfumers are eager to continue reintroducing lost ancient fragrances. The desire is there, and so is the knowledge!