The ancient Mesopotamia civilization was the origin-place for many inventions including scriptures, wheels, and .. soap.
The first evidence of a soap-like substance was in 2800 BC, in Mesopotamia, inhabited by the Sumerians. The oldest soaps, made by using animal fats with wood ash and water, were used to wash wool, treating skin diseases, and also for ritualistic purposes by Sumerian priests.
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The use of soap and even the act of bathing turned into something undesirable and was discouraged after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. The church institutions linked the use of soap to pagan ways.
In the later years, soap made a comeback and the ongoing cultural invasions in the European region contributed to its widespread use and different techniques of manufacturing.
The Latin word for soap ‘Sapo’ is mentioned in an ancient encyclopedia (penned in circa 77 AD) by a Roman Naturalist Pliny the Elder. The author talked about how the product was used more by the Gaulish and Germanic men rather than Romans (which preferred to scrap their skins clean by using essential oils and white sand).
A Greek physician Galen writes about soap and its use in the Roman empire in 2nd century AD.
Before the 18th century, soap usage was a small scale, mostly among the wealthy, as it was a niche product, which gave off an unpleasant aroma due to the animal fat inside.
In the 19th century Crimean War, the British suffered many casualties from widespread diseases, which led to new hygiene regulations and eventually widespread usage of soap, which by then had other aromatic ingredients like palm oil and coconut essence.
Early 20th century, soap was marketed heavily on radio and TV as a mass-consumed commercial product by Procter & Gamble, which led to the term ‘soap operas’. P&G saw great demand and spent $10 million a year in advertising alone.
In 1500 BC, the ancient Egyptians devised ways to make soap-like components using alkaline salts and oil. This was further enhanced by the Neo-Babylonians, by adding ashes, cypress extracts, and sesame oil.
The origin of perfume is commonly attributed to the ancient Egyptians. They utilized scents to celebrate prayers and religious ceremony by burning essential oils, resin, and perfumed unguents.
This practice had several functions: to ensure divinities’ protection and benevolence and to convey messages and prayers to the dead, to purify the body and to conduct embalming ceremonies.
Over time, scents were not only confined to the sacred aspects, but they were also introduced in daily hygiene. Already at the time of the ancient Egypt there was an intense trade of spices, aromas and resins that were abundant in Egypt but also imported from distant lands such as the Middle East, Arabia and the Indians lands. From these trades were imported fine woods, scented resins, myrrh and incense that made up some of the main ingredients of the scents of the time.
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