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Lists What are lists? Login to add to list. Be the first to add this to a list. Ancient uses and value Both frankincense—also known as olibanum—and myrrh have been traded in the Middle East and North Africa for upwards of 5, years.


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It is believed that the Babylonians and Assyrians burned them during religious ceremonies. The ancient Egyptians bought entire boatloads of the resins from the Phoenicians, using them in incense, insect repellent, perfume and salves for wounds and sores; they were also key ingredients in the embalming process.


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Myrrh oil served as a rejuvenating facial treatment, while frankincense was charred and ground into a power to make the heavy kohl eyeliner Egyptian women famously wore. Sacks of frankincense and potted saplings of myrrh-producing trees appear in murals decorating the walls of a temple dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for roughly two decades until her death around B.

The ancient Greeks and Romans also imported massive amounts of the resins, which they burned as incense, used during cremations and took for a wide variety of ailments. According to Touwaide, myrrh appears with more frequency than any other plant substance in the writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates, who revolutionized the field of medicine in the fourth and third centuries B. The Roman historian and botanist Pliny the Elder, who recommended frankincense as an antidote to hemlock poisoning, wrote in the first century A.

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At the time Jesus is thought to have been born, frankincense and myrrh may have been worth more than their weight in the third gift presented by the wise men: gold But despite their significance in the New Testament, the substances fell out of favor in Europe with the rise of Christianity and fall of the Roman Empire, which essentially obliterated the thriving trade routes that had developed over many centuries. In the early years of Christianity, incense was expressly forbidden because of its associations with pagan worship; later, however, some denominations, including the Catholic Church, would incorporate the burning of frankincense, myrrh and other aromatic items into specific rites.

Frankincense and myrrh today While the advent of modern medicine dealt another blow to the market for frankincense and myrrh, some communities and alternative practitioners continue to prize the resins for their healing properties. Gupta, S. South Asian Studies , 17 1 , Books Williams, D. Bread for the people: the archaeology of mills and milling.

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University of Southampton Series in Archaeology; No. Peacock, D. Amphorae and the Roman economy: an introductory guide. London, GB: Longman. Book Chapters Williams, D.


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