What Was Perfume Invented?

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The word "perfume" comes from the Latin word "per fumum," which means "through smoke." In ancient times, perfumes were made by burning aromatic woods and herbs, and the smoke produced was used to scent clothes and hair. Over time, the process of making perfume evolved, and people began to extract essential oils from flowers and plants. The use of fragrance has been documented throughout many cultures and civilizations, from the Mesopotamians and ancient Greeks to the Romans and Chinese. But when was perfume actually invented? In this article, we'll explore the history of perfume and trace its origins back to its earliest days.

A Trajectory of Perfume Making

The first recorded use of perfume in history is attributed to the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians used perfume for both religious and cosmetic purposes. They believed that the gods would be pleased with the pleasant aroma of the perfumes, and they also used them to mask the smell of decay during the embalming process.

Perfume-making was also prevalent in ancient Greece, where it was considered an art form. The Greeks used perfume for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, and they also burned incense as offerings to their gods. The Greeks were also the first to use perfume bottles, which were made of precious stones and metals.

In the Middle Ages, perfume-making became a thriving industry in the Islamic world. The Arabs were known for their expertise in perfume-making, and they introduced new ingredients such as musk, ambergris, and roses. They also developed new techniques such as distillation, which allowed them to extract essential oils more efficiently.

In Europe, perfume-making was popularized during the Renaissance. The Italians were known for their skill in creating fragrances, and they developed new scents such as jasmine, vanilla, and bergamot. Perfume-making became an art form, and many famous perfumers emerged during this period.

Modern Perfume Making

The 18th century marked a turning point in perfume-making, as perfumers began to move away from natural ingredients and towards synthetic fragrances. This was due in part to the discovery of new chemical compounds, such as coumarin, which allowed perfumers to create scents that could not be found in nature. The French city of Grasse became the center of the perfume industry during this time, and many famous perfumers emerged, including Jean-Louis Fargeon, who created perfumes for Marie Antoinette.

The 19th century saw the rise of the modern perfume industry, with the development of new technologies and the expansion of the global market. The invention of the steam distillation process allowed perfumers to extract essential oils more efficiently, and the growth of the middle class created a new market for affordable perfumes. Famous perfumers of this era include Francois Coty, who created the first designer fragrance, and Guerlain, who developed the first "modern" perfume, Jicky.

The modern perfume making process has advanced significantly since the 20th and 21st centuries. The use of synthetic compounds has allowed for more complexity and nuance in the perfumes, and has enabled manufacturers to create more distinct scents. In addition, the advent of computers and digital tools has allowed the creation of new scents to become much faster and more efficient.

Digitally-assisted tools have allowed perfumers to create scents more quickly and with more accuracy than before. These tools are used to create digital compositions that can be used to make a scent more complex or to replicate a scent that is difficult to achieve with traditional methods.


The invention of perfume is shrouded in mystery, but evidence suggests it has been around since ancient times. From the Egyptians to the Greeks, the Arabs to the Italians, people have been using perfume for centuries for both religious and cosmetic purposes. Today, perfume is a multibillion-dollar industry that continues to evolve and innovate, but its roots remain firmly planted in the ancient past.

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