Monday, July 28, 2008

Mavrorachi Part II

Aphrodite's Island: Cyprus and 12,000 Years of History

Artifacts discovered on the Island of Cyprus date as far back as 8800 BC . Geographically , Cyprus lay in a strategic central location in the Mediterranean, becoming a vital commercial center with a long and rich history . Archaeological evidence shows the use of stone and clay tools and then production of pottery . Cypriot pre-history has revealed a major migration out of Anatolia around 2300 BC , preceeded by a major cataclysm . New pottery shapes and evidence of mining copper appear . Toward the end of antiquity and for many centuries Cyprus was an integral part of the Greek-Roman world . Then in 332-342 BC severe earthqakes destroyed the ancient cities on Cyprus and drew an end to the age of Antiquity . Even so , today we can re-live the glorious days of the Bronze age on Cyprus , when it played a key role in copper and olive oil production and trade .

And why , then is this considered to be Aphrodite's island ?
Mythology tells us legends about Inanna / Aphrodite and her legendary beauty , the goddess of desire . Ovid's Metamorphosis tells the story of Myrra , who fell in love with her father while her mother was away and slept with him for 7 nights . After discovering the treachery, her father wanted to kill her , but she escaped . When about to give birth , She pleaded with the Gods to protect her from her father , and so was changed into the Myrrh tree . The sword of her father pierced only the bark , her son Adonis was born , and was raised by the nymphs and annointed with the perfumed tears of his mother ( myrrh ) . He became so handsome that Aphrodite fell in love with him , and when Adonis was killed by Ares , Aphrodite's tears became roses , red for the color of her dying lovers blood .

Two of perfumery's most famous oils are featured in this legend , roses and myrrh. Today , the distillation of rose petals is the main perfume industry in Cyprus . Myrrh does not grow on Cyprus ( Commyphora Myrra ). Yet in Greek , the word myrra does not refer to this plant , but to any perfumed plant !! It's linguistic root was given to another botanical species , myrrtus communus , sacred to Aphrodite and named by the Greeks Myrtle .

The amazing text accompanying my numbered bottle of Mavrorachi parfum ( No. 270 ) features a section on the indigenous plants believed to be in the area of Pyrgos 4000 years ago , as per evidence found at the dig . The colored plates are beautiful and scientifically accurate ,as you can see here of the Rosaceae Amygdalus communus on page 112 : a beautiful single , homestead type rose with pale petals and dark centers , most certainly used in perfumery.

Other plants covered in this section are :
Liliaceae Colchinum autonnale
Convolvulacee Convolvulus scammonia
Umbelliferae Coriandrum sativum
Lauraceae Laurus nobilis
Labiatae Lavendula latifolia
Compositae Matricharia cammomila
Mirtaceae Myrtus communus

Shall we than assume two major components of our sacred oil parfum to be rose and myrtle ?
continued tomorrow...
don't forget to stay up late and watch for meteors...

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