Researchers recreate balms used on ancient Egyptian mummy
Scientists name the perfume of the balm as "the scent of eternity."
After experts discovered and replicated the aroma of balms used in the mummification of an ancient Egyptian noblewoman, museum visitors will be taken back more than 3,500 years, The Guardian reported.
Researchers analyzing the remains of balms used in the mummification of a noblewoman named Senetnay have not only discovered that many of their constituents came from outside Egypt, but they have also recreated their aroma.
"Senetnay’s mummification balm stands out as one of the most intricate and complex balms from that era," indicated Barbara Huber, the first author of the research from the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology, as quoted by The Guardian.
According to the researchers, Senetnay lived about 1450 BC and worked as a wet nurse for Pharaoh Amenhotep II.
Howard Carter, the British archeologist who would later become famous for his part in unearthing Tutankhamun's tomb, uncovered Senetnay's canopic jars - vessels in which the deceased's mummified organs were housed - in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1900.
Huber and colleagues examined six samples of mummification balm remnants from within two jars that formerly housed Senetnay's lungs and liver, as indicated by Egyptian inscriptions.
The scientists discovered that the balms had a complex mixture of components, including fats and oils, beeswax, bitumen, resins from pine trees, coumarin, which has a vanilla-like aroma, and benzoic acid, which can be found in many plant sources, such as cinnamon and cloves. They noted that many of the ingredients would have had to be imported into Egypt.
However, not all of the components were present in both jars, suggesting that the balms were organ-specific, while the authors suggested that it was also possible that they were the same but were poorly blended or had deteriorated.
Huber went on to say that the team had reproduced the aroma of the balms with the help of a perfumer and that it will be featured in an exhibition at the Moesgaard Museum in Denmark this autumn.
The perfume of the balm has been dubbed "the scent of eternity."
On his part, William Tullett, a sensory history expert at the University of York who was not involved in the research, pointed out that recreating odors from history was critical to understanding the link between the past and the present, as cited The Guardian.