The history of lavender in the Egyptian culture “Pharaohs”

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From antiquity to the 18th century

Lavender, a medicinal plant has its origins under the terms “lavandula stoechas” or spica, and found root as early as the Romans who used it as a perfume, for bathing and cleaning laundry. Throughout the Mediterranean, the use of the plant, which has been classified as a “precious plant” by Roman naturalists (cited especially by Pliny), is developing.Since ancient times, humans have used aromatic plants to cure or prevent diseases. Egyptian civilization is considered “creative” of essential oils.
Since ancient times, humans have used aromatic plants to cure or prevent diseases. Egyptian civilization is considered “creative” of essential oils. Mentions were found during archaeological excavations in the nineteenth century, on papyrus dating back to -4,500 years which contain lists of remedies based on “plants of life”.



How were the essential oils made?

The Egyptians obtained the essential oils by a summary distillation. The plants were mixed with boiling water, in which tissues were added. A maceration of several days allowed the fabrics to be impregnated by the essences thanks to the water vapor. The fabrics were then dewatered by hand.

For what uses?

Essential oils were used daily in all areas of life by the entire population.

Essential oils were an integral part of religious ceremonies to purify the air, but also as offerings to the gods. The Egyptian priests, considered as the first perfumers of the world, prepared herbal mixtures called kyphi. The well-to-do populations embalmed their deceased with strips dipped in essential oils with antibacterial and antiseptic virtues in order to bring humans closer to the gods after death. Thanks to this technique, the mummies discovered centuries later, were very well preserved. Jars containing incense were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun and their scent was still fragrant!

Egyptian culture valued hygiene, beauty and youth. This is why women and men applied creams, ointments, massage oils, perfumes … on the face, body and hair for therapeutic purposes (repelling insects, avoiding epidemics) or well-being. The perfume, both hygienic and spiritual, was essential to life in ancient Egypt and had its own god: Nefertem.

It is thanks to Avicenna, doctor and philosopher Persian, who developed the first still, in the year 1000, that pure essential oils can be extracted by distillation.
The Egyptian civilization had a considerable influence on all the cultures of the Mediterranean basin and especially Greek medicine.


This millennial plant is believed to be native to Persia. In the 1st century, Pliny the elder, the naturalist and Dioscorid doctor and botanist mention in their works the lavender “Aspic” and “Stoechas” and Dioscoride classify them among the precious plants. The word lavender dates from the Middle Ages, but this plant was already used by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to perfume their baths and maintain their laundry.
The Celts made a lotion based on lavender essential oil called the “Celtic Nard” used in pharmacy and perfumery. We refer to the nard in the New Testament, in the house of Simon the leper, Madeleine the sinner anointed the feet of the Lord with this nard.
In 1371, the cultivation of lavender existed in Burgundy in the form of “gardens of simple” where one cultivated other herbs used for apothecaries.
From the 16th century the essence of lavender is distilled in Provence, it heals wounds and serves as dewormer. In the 18th century, in association with other aromatic plants, lavender was a remedy used against the plague.
It was in the 19th century with the development of industry and perfumery that we began to grow this wild plant.


Other Fragrant Plants


Grasse’s perfume plants: May rose, jasmine and violet make up the palette of perfumes from the Grasse region. These productions are in decline because they are very competitive with imports from African countries, from Turkey … The perfume industry in Grasse is still growing.
The 2013 bitter orange blossom and May rose harvests are expected to remain at levels close to 2012, at 4 tonnes and 80 tonnes, respectively.
For the violet leaf, harvests remain downward (33 tons in 2012, ie – 62% compared to 2011). The carry-over of inventory and the competition of the concrete, especially Egyptian, including qualitatively, weaken this production. However, the 2013 crop, estimated at 45 tonnes, could be slightly higher if leaf yields and extractions are correct.

The 2012 jasmine harvest represented between 10 and 11 tons of flowers. This volume should be extended for the 2013 harvest. The production potential could provide larger quantities, but the difficulties in organizing the harvesting do not allow it, with a workforce that is difficult to find, especially since flowering is spread over a long period (harrowing and daily harvest from mid-July to mid-November).Originally from Persia and the Canary Islands, lavender has been established in Provence since antiquity. The Egyptians perfumed their tombs. The Greeks and Romans used it to scent the water of their bath and their laundry. It is probably from these purifying functions that was born its botanical name, Lavandula, from the Latin lavare meaning to wash.

Lavender has been used since antiquity, by the Egyptians for mummification, by the Romans to scent baths and linen.
In Europe in the Middle Ages it is grown in the gardens of herbalists and monasteries. Its medicinal uses are studied in the sixteenth century by the Faculty of Montpellier. The creation in 1759 of the corporation of the master perfumers in the city of Grasse creates a demand and sees the rise of the wild collection, then the cultivation of the fine lavender.
From 1928, the cultivation of lavandin more productive develops largely.

In a pamphlet on the therapeutic uses of lavender oil written by Mr R.M. GATEFOSSE in the 1925s, it is written:
“The therapeutic uses of lavender essences are not new.It is probable that it is this essential oil which under the name of the Celtic Nard, was highly prized in antiquity and to which one already attributed much importance, also good for medicinal uses as for perfumery “..

After the destruction of the Celtic power by the Romans, they used lavender in the western Mediterranean to store linen and perfume the baths.
* René-Maurice Gattefossé, an industrialist and scientist from Lyon, who died in 1950, was one of the promoters of lavandiculture in Haute-Provence.

The word “LAVENDER” comes from the Latin “LAVARE” which means LAVER, PURIFIER It is with the arrival of the Romans that lavender appeared in Provence 2000 years ago. She could not leave this region where she would grow in the hills and on the plateaus, fearing neither drought, nor wind, nor bad weather.

In the Middle Ages, in Provence, wild lavender flowers were harvested and peasants used it to treat wounds.
It was from the end of the 19th century that Provençal peasants began to care for and care for wild lavandainies, especially in the hills (between 600 and 1800 meters above sea level) to encourage the development of seedlings, so the production.
This is how the plant grew in the 20th century from family culture to intensive cultivation.


The use of essential oils begins well before our era, in Ancient Egypt. Papyri found throughout the centuries attest to the existence of “plants of life” from 4500 BC.
Their use was sacred, medicine attaching to a belief in magic and symbols.

Essential oils were used at this time in several fields: medicine, perfumery, cosmetics and embalming. The perfume is in the customs of seduction and religion, the application in balm is commonplace, and not exclusive to kings and rich. Religion is really related to the use of essential oils when embalming bodies, to bring the human of the gods after his death. Thanks to the maceration of the strips in the essential oils before covering the bodies, some of them have been particularly well preserved for centuries.

The Egyptians practiced a basic form of distillation, using maceration and spinning. The plants were mixed with boiling water. After adding tissues to this mixture, the Egyptians allowed the preparation to macerate for several days, so that the essences are absorbed into the textile. In order to recover them, the tissues were dewatered manually.

Regarding the modes of administration of the time, we find some that have not changed. Generally taken in ointment and balm, the cutaneous application was the most widespread. However, oral use (pure or herbal tea) was also applied.

Egyptian civilization is today considered as the creator of essential oils. She has influenced many cultures and civilizations, bringing her medical know-how to Greece, the Roman Empire and the entire Mediterranean basin.
















About Ben Mabrouk 4 Articles
BENMABROUK NAJET, Master degree in medical biotechnology, graduated from the fundamentals of digital marketing, autoentrepreneur in aromatherapy as a beginner, blogger wordpress on website with the founder Mr Bruno Maiorana, student at GenM Ottawa Canada

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