Ancient Tales: The History of Aromatherapy

The Mideast

The most prized of all incenses to the Mesopotamians was the fragrant cedar-of-Lebanon. The name “Lebanon” comes from the Akkadian word lubbunu which means “incense.” King Solomon’s Temple was built twice of fragrant cedar-of-Lebanon trees. After being destroyed in 586 BC, the temple was rebuilt in 535 BC with the aid of the Persians, again using fragrant cedarwood.

In Persia in 980-1,037 AD lived a philosopher and physician called Avicenna, who is often credited with the discovery of distillation. Although it was known before this, it was Avicenna who improved it and brought it into popular use. His book, The Canon of Medicinae, was used as a standard work for many centuries. In it, he explored the use of aromatics medicinal plants and spices. He was also greatly in favor of the use of massage, traction and fruit fasting as part of a detoxifying diet.

It was thought that the crusading knights in the Middle Ages brought the oils and perfumes back from the travels in Egypt and Syria to Europe.

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