What Are Some Historical Facts About Frankincense?


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Ancient civilizations used frankincense, also known as olibanum, for its aromatic and medicinal properties, prescribing it for analgesic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory purposes, HISTORY explains. People in Ancient Egypt used crushed frankincense to create heavy eyeliner. Native to the Arabian Peninsula and Northeast Africa, it has been a valuable trade good for over 5,000 years.

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Ancient cultures considered frankincense a cure-all and prescribed it for conditions such as toothaches, halitosis, indigestion, hemlock poisoning and chronic cough. They also used it to treat wounds, hemorrhoids and leprosy, notes HISTORY. The sweet, citrusy scent of frankincense made it a popular aromatic for perfumes, religious rituals and embalming. Egyptians used the substance to prepare mummies and animal sacrifices, while many cultures burned the fragrant incense as a substitute for bathing, according to HowStuffWorks.

Egyptian women made kohl eyeliner by charring and grinding frankincense into a fine powder, HISTORY states. Queen Hatshepsut's temple murals pictured frankincense prominently.

In the first century A.D., Roman historian Pliny remarked on the wealth of southern Arabians because of the thriving frankincense trade, according to HISTORY. He also noted that the region produced about 1,680 tons of frankincense annually, HowStuffWorks states.

In modern-day Oman, the Land of Frankincense is an archaeological ruin that preserves the site of a famous ancient outpost, which exported frankincense to countries such as China and India, notes HowStuffWorks.

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