The Ancient Use Of Oils

Tombs of the kings and queens of ancient Egypt were often robbed. Indeed, most tombs were looted beyond recognition, and Tutankhamen's tomb remains the richest find to date, yet even his tomb was briefly disturbed by thieves.

Upon examination of the tomb robberies which occurred in antiquity, one strange fact stands out; often old items were ignored, in favor of quite ordinary clay or alabaster vessels -jars containing the most precious of all substances in ancient Egypt ... essential oils.

Essential oils, made from flowers, animal and human glandular secretions and other natural sources, were collected and expressed and condensed into
potent perfumes very different from these of today. For one thing, they did
not contain alcohol. For another, they were made under stringent magical and astrological conditions over a very long period of time.

These powerful unguents and oils were considered far more precious than
gold or gems. But why was this? To understand their value, we must consider them front the point of view of the people of ancient Egypt. After all, they
were more concerned with the afterlife than with this one, because they considered the present life just preparation for the real life they would live
in the next World. Is it any wonder, then, that they would pay almost
anything for the magical urgents which guaranteed passage into the next

We must keep in mind that these oils were not available to the ordinary
person. They were difficult to produce, and in some cases required extremely unusual conditions; for example, some of the oils were collected from the women of the harem, who were brought into a state of excitation by the ingestion of herbal smoke and the application of powerful psychoactive substances on their skin.

The resulting collection of such substances would have typically taken place over a period of several or dozens of years in preparation for the passage of
the Pharaoh. The oils would then have been stored in jars sealed with tiny lumps of clay and pressed with the intaglio impressions of the presiding

Until the death of the Pharaoh, these jars of oils would have been carefully guarded by highly trusted members of the Pharaoh's personal guard, but even so some oils inevitably escaped and were sold on the black market.

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