Wednesday, May 27, 2009

past present future scents

you can smell the past

you can make tomorrows' memory-smells

The intelligence and humor left in a bottle, vial, ring, amphora, pomander, snuff box can now be archaeologically reconstituted with today's technology.

Some recent public examples of archival reconstitution of perfumes include the Titanic find.

Adolphe Saalfeld was a German born Edwardian perfumer who left England on the RMS Titanic, embarking to sell his fragrances world-wide. They met a watery holding tank in 1912, while he survived via lifeboat number 3 and returned to Manchester, England, living until 1926.

In 2000, 62 bottles of his concentrated perfume oils were recovered. He had boarded with 65 test tube like bottles. At the time of the Titanic sail he had been 47, chairman of the chemists and distillers Sparks, White and Co. Ltd. 

Though he did not pursue the perfume business, his rose/violet composition has been copied using the scent's "fingerprint" of the original chemical composition and debuted at the Edinburgh Science Festival.Scents of Time Series brings us Ankh: reconstructed from written formula found at Edfu on the Nile, derived from Kyphi incense.

Nenufar: Blue Lotus is visible in many hieroglyphics. Sacred to Pharaohs and Pharaohesses, guess what? The flower's chemistry contains the hallucinogen myristicin. The petals were steeped in wine and then the wine was drunk and then the drinkee drank in the hallucinogen stories. The perfume uses nutmeg spice, which contains myristicin. Remember studies show how much men enjoy the scent of pumpkin pie, which is loaded with nutmeg. I hail from the Nutmeg State.

Pyxis: named from a pixie fresco on a wall at the House of the Vetii in Pompeii. Based on floral, herbal and spice spores found in the garden of a perfumer, believed to be called Sperato, at Pompeii.

Scents of Time's David Pybus worked with perfumers from Givaudan on these scent reconstructions. He has authored several books.

I have not yet smelled any of these, so, the infinite perfume hunt continues.

Painting: Electric Sunrise Lura Astor