Cyprus, Our Island
Cyprus, known as the 'Jewel of the Mediterranean' and legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient goddess of love and beauty, certainly lives up to the exacting standards of its divine patroness. A stunning Mediterranean island steeped in legend, myth, beauty, romance and ancient perfume making. Enchanted by endless stretches of golden sands, secluded bays, glorious mountains and verdant countryside.
At the Crossroads of Continents the third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is situated at the north eastern corner of the Mediterranean, 300 km north of Egypt, 105 km west of Syria and 75 km south of Turkey, while the Greek mainland lies 800 km to the north-west. Anchored at the junction of three continents, Cyprus has always been a prized possession for the many civilizations that ruled it through history. From the earliest Greek settlers who gave the island its Hellenic identity in the second millennium BC, the island was then subject in turn to the empires of Assyria, Persia, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, the Franks and the Venetians, the Ottomans and the British before it achieved independence in 1960.
Cyprus and Ancient Perfume-Making
Cyprus has ancient history in perfume-making, a fact recently uncovered through the research of the Italian Archaeological Expedition of Pyrgos near Lemesos, led by Archaeologist Maria Rosaria Belgiorno.
The expedition has led to the discovery of the oldest industrial area in the entire Mediterranean basin, dating back to 2200 B.C., in the form of a palace, which housed what is now considered the oldest perfumery in the world. In each room of the palace, ancient Cypriot technicians worked on metallurgy, textile, wine and olive oil production. And in one enormous 4,000 sq m perfume-making factory, the oldest aromas in the world came into existence. "We were astonished at how big the place was," said Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, the leader of the Italian archaeological team. "Perfumes must have been produced on an industrial scale." Throughout the Bronze Age and into the 1st millennium B.C., Cyprus played a key role in copper and olive oil production and trade. Olive oil was used as a base for medicine, cosmetics and perfume. The perfume factory had been in operation until it was struck by a violent earthquake around 1850 BC.
At least 60 distilling stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were found perfectly preserved at the site, each of them more than 4,000 years old. The scent traces found at the site revealed the method of how famous Cypriot aromas were produced, 4000 years ago, through the lengthy steeping of the spices in water and oil and other ancient techniques. Ingredients included extracts of bay, thyme, lavender and mixtures based on natural spices and olive oil.