Museum visitors can now smell the scent used by the Egyptian noblewoman Senetnay in 1450 BC. for their life in eternity. Researchers were able to recreate a balm made from oils, resins and beeswax that was used to treat her mummy.

The bandage wraps are well known for mummification, and smells also play a major role. Presumably because the pleasant smell was supposed to represent a counterpoint to the transience of the flesh. Written evidence is rare, but now the ingredients could be determined and the balm remixed.

Senetnay belonged to the absolute upper class, most of the ingredients come from distant countries and not from Egypt. “Senetnay’s mummification balm is considered one of the most complicated and complex balms from this period,” said Barbara Huber, lead author of the study from the Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology.

Howard Carter discovered the vessels in which the organs removed from the dead were kept in 1900. He later became famous for discovering Tutankhamun’s tomb. Now, for the first time, six samples of residues of the balm have been decoded.

“Certain resins, such as the resin of the larch tree, probably come from the northern Mediterranean and Central Europe,” says Huber. “Another substance has been narrowed down to either a resin called dammar – found exclusively in Southeast Asian tropical forests – or pistacia tree resin. If it was dammar, this would reflect the extensive trading networks of the Egyptians in the middle of the second millennium BC. highlight the ingredients brought in from afar.”

Buried in the Valley of the Kings, Senetnay was entitled to be called the “Pharaoh’s Ornament” and was Amenhotep II’s nurse and wife of the mayor of Thebes.

Amenhotep II ruled Egypt for more than 25 years. He fought successfully in numerous wars and was known for his handsome appearance. Amenhotep II is the first depiction of a “sportsman,” someone who trains and runs for fitness. Amenhotep II allowed Senetnay to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. He had a statue of the couple erected in the temple of Karnak.

Her scent was recreated in collaboration with a perfumer. The remedy is used for the first time at an exhibition in the Moesgaard Museum in Denmark. dr William Tullett, an expert on sensory history, told the Guardian that visitors are in for a surprise. Because the Egyptians perceived the scents very differently than we do today. “To our nostrils, the warm, resinous, and pine-like scents of larch might be more reminiscent of cleaning supplies, and the sulphurous smell of bitumen might remind us of asphalt. But for the Egyptians, these smells clearly had a variety of other meanings related to spirituality and social status. “

Sources: Scientific Reports, Guardian