After 2,000 years, can Cleopatra’s perfume ever be recreated?

Scientists are seeking to recreate the ancient aroma of Queen Cleopatra’s perfume, hoping to culminate years of research since 2012 to bring the perfume back to the world after over 2000 years.

Aromas in ancient civilizations has puzzled scientists and the details of the exact scent of Cleopatra’s perfume has remained the biggest challenge facing them until recently.

Since 2012, a team of researchers at the University of Hawaii has been trying to clone Cleopatra’s perfume after they found bottles and containers believed to contain organic remains used as part of the ingredients for the perfume.

After about ten years of scientific research and collaboration with research teams in various fields, the researchers were able to clone and synthesize a fragrance that they believed was identical to Cleopatra’s perfume.

In September 2021, Archeology Magazine published a research paper on the techniques that helped researchers to reconstruct and reproduce Cleopatra’s perfume – under the title “Eau de Cleopatra“.

The perfume created was based on recipes that were mentioned in ancient Roman texts and using modern technologies.

However, though researchers were able to install a stable perfume that can last for about two years, the odds of this perfume not matching Cleopatra’s perfume remained.

While some scientists believed that the perfume lasting two years was a sign it must have been legitimately close to the original formation, others questioned if the methods used from the Roman and Greek texts might have produced something entirely different from an ancient Egyptian recipe.

Currently, a team of researchers at the Italian University of Pisa plans to determine the exact smell of Cleopatra’s perfume by analyzing 46 bowls, jars, cups, and the remains of organic materials found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian architect and his wife in 2012.

But the results, which the team published in the Journal of Archaeological Science a few days ago, indicate that the exact smell of Cleopatra’s perfume is still something that needs even more research.



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