2,000 year-old Roman perfume bottle discovered in Spanish tomb
This perfume bottle is one of the items discovered during an excavation of a mausoleum in the Spanish city of Seville, in a Roman tomb described as never having been touched and still "in magnificent condition".
Spanish archaeologists have uncovered a perfume bottle dating back 2000 years, which is suspected to have belonged to a wealthy woman in her Roman-era family burial chamber in Seville.
Contained in a fancy carved quartz bottle, the scent could have arrived from as far as India and was likely a great rarity. It was one of the items discovered during an excavation of a mausoleum in the Spanish city of Seville, in a tomb described as never having been touched and still "in magnificent condition" when found in 2019.
The remains of six people were found in the communal chamber, with eight niches for urns and other products, while the perfume bottle was stumbled upon in the niche for a woman in her 40s.
The bottle, notable for being from carved quartz and not blown glass, is still sealed with a stopper made of dolomite with bitumen tar, which indicates that the contents of the bottle were quite elite and expensive.
"A solid mass inside" was found in the bottle after extensive analysis by a research team at the University of Cordoba and led by Professor of Organic Chemistry Jose Rafael Ruiz Arrebola.
The team attempted to find out how it would have smelt two millennia ago. By applying X-ray diffraction and gas chromatography, the team was able to date the bottle back to the first century AD, and by using mass spectrometry, they found that it contained a vegetable oil base, possibly olive oil, and patchouli for aroma.
An essential oil, patchouli is extracted from the Pogostemon cablin plant, which is originally grown in India. Although it is commonly found in perfume shops nowadays, its use in Roman-era times was previously unknown.