Sunday, February 15, 2009

Odour lingers in medieval bottle of scent

Odour lingers in medieval bottle of scent

When the tiny stopper is delicately eased free, a mere wisp of scent imprisoned for over 650 years is released.

In a unique experiment, scientists at the L’Oreal perfume institute in Paris tried to analyse the ingredients of a perfume whose precious container survived the Black Death, which annihilated a third of the population of Europe.

The young Jewish woman who wore the pretty silver bottle dangling on a chain at her waist was probably murdered or driven out of Erfurt, the ancient capital of Thuringia, east of Frankfurt, a victim of savage pogroms as communities sought somebody to blame for the unstoppable march of the plague.

There was too little left to analyse the components of the perfume, though the scientists proved the wadding packed into the bottle was cotton, not wool or flax. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2009

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