Eau de Cleopatra: Mendesian Perfume and Tell Timai

Near Eastern Archaeology 84 (3):216-229 (2021)
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Abstract

Cleopatra VII, the last of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, reveled in perfume (Plutarch, Life of Marcus Antonius 26.2). She even used it in her seduction of the Roman general Marc Antony. Sailing up the river Cydnus to meet him, she reclined in a canopy spangled with gold, adorned like Venus in a painting. Boys dressed as cupids fanned her and wondrous scents from incense offerings wafted along the riverbanks. Not long after her death in August 30 BCE, a book circulated under her name called Cleopatra’s Cosmetic, full of recipes for fragrant oils and cleansers (Totelin 2017: 114–18).

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Sean Coughlin
Czech Academy of Sciences

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