Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mavrorachi : Part III Experimental Archaeology

Botanical plate Mirtacea p. 124

The sweet , herbal nuances of Mavrorachi parfum are wafting around me , and my answer would be yes , rose and myrtle are featured in this subtle oil. Some rosemary , but only a touch for balsamic sweetness . Chamomile I do not directly smell , but I feel it is there for some sweetness and light . ...as for the other notes used , analysis of jugs and perfume containers excavated at Pyrgos revealed the use of ( in addition to olive oil ) coriander , bergamot , bitter almond , bay leaves , and parsley .
Experiments were conducted at the Antiquities Center using the lesser known hot-extraction method of perfume making . Production of essences of rose , lavender and coriander was the goal , as these are still produced on Cyprus today . Using 1 litre of water , 1 litre of olive oil and 1 kilogram of rose petals , a faintly scented oil was produced using the ancient extraction method . Other experiments were conducted using the distillation methods still in use today .

Pyrgos / Mavrorachi is at the center of a large settlememt near the Pyrgos River , inland about 4 km from the sea . Today the prehistoric settlement is almost entirely covered with modern developments built in the last ten years
( GASP ) .

In 1998 The Italian Archaeological Mission of National Research Council opened the excavation at Pyrgos on the western side of Mavroraki Hill . In 2002-2003 investigations revealed a large building and excavation began ; after eight seasons the dig has only revealed 30% of the foundations of this gi-normous structure . On three sides evidence was discovered of an olive press room with a central area for refining and working of copper .
Further excavations discovered residues and sediments from two large courtyards , two bronze working shops , an oil press area with jar storage space , and a workshop used for the production of aromatic essences , two textile workshops and a winery .
And so experimental archaeology made possible the reproduction of an ancient formula Mavrorachi Parfum . Today I hold a vial of this precious scent , many thanks to Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy who continue to painstakingly adhere to the tradition of perfumery in Italy today.

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