Perfume isn`t a modern product. Archaeologists have discovered that perfume in glass bottles were used by ancient Egyptians. The word perfume is derived from the Latin per fume, which means `through smoke`. This was because the earliest perfumes came from burning aromatic herbs or incense during religious services.
Though Egypt was probably the first to integrate scents into their way of life, all the other ancient cultures like the Hindus, Chinese, Arabs, Greeks and Romans soon followed suit. It was the Arabs however, who were responsible for introducing perfume to Europe. The traders of Arabia sold perfume along with spices, silks and vegetable dyes.
The Arabs developed their perfume manufacturing to extraordinary levels. They were even using the distillation process. At one point of time they were selling perfume to most of the ancient world.
Fragrant materials used included aromatic gums exuded by trees. Frankincense and myrrh were common examples of this. Other fragrant plant extracts included rose, lily peppermint and even henna. Sandalwood, musk and barks of trees too were often used.
Ancient perfumers used to extract essential oils along with fat. It was used in this raw form for a long time. It was much later that the fat was removed with the use of alcohol.
It was only centuries later that the use of alcohol in perfumeries came to be known in the western world. Round about the seventeenth century, branded perfumes began to be made. The most popular of these was Eau de Cologne. Every producer added his own variation to the formula to give it unique touch.
The development of organic chemistry inn the nineteenth century led to the production of synthetic perfume materials for the first time. It was the development of these synthetics and the varied assortment of fragrances, which led to the art of perfumery as it is seen today.
Unlike the earlier perfumes that were used for religious purposes and aromatherapy, these perfumes were used as toiletries and cosmetic purposes only.