In China, camphor has been prepared and used in early antiquity. The first documental reference to it is found in the writings of the Arabian prince Imru-l-Kais of the sixth century;4) also in the Koran, in which it is mentioned as a refrigerant in connection with the beverages of the blessed in paradise.5) Aetius of Amida, also in the sixth century, mentions camphor as a remedy.6) When the palace in Madain of Choroes II. king of the Sassanidae was pillaged in 636, much camphor was taken in addition to musk, ambra, sandalwood and other oriental aromatics.7) Later, when Arabian sailors and merchants sailed to India and China, they became acquainted not only with the principal ports via which the camphor was shipped from south-eastern Asia to the Mediterranean countries, but also with the sources of supply. Thus the Arabian merchants and physicians became acquainted with the different varieties which entered the world's market in part from China, in part from Sumatra. Marco Polo, in the 13. century, also became acquainted with the camphor in Sumatra and Borneo.8)
1) Neumann, Chymia medica dogmatico-experimentalis. Zullichau 1749. Vol. 2, Part 3, p. 437.
2) Macis vulgo sed perperam, Muskatenblume- dicta. Dissertatio. Giessen 1719.
3i) Trommsdorff's Neues Journ. der Pharm. 8, II. (1824), 231.
4) In Ibn Hagik al Hamdany's manuscript on the description of Arabia, p. 170, and Fliickiger's Pharmacognosie. p. 159.
5) Le ftoran, traduit par Kasimirski. Cap. 76. V. 5 and 6.
6) Aetii ab Amida medici grxci ex veteribus medicinae Tetrabiblos. Editio Froben. Basiliae 1542. p. 926.
7) Weil, Geschichte der Chalifen. Mannheim 1846. p. 75.
8) Yule, Book of Ser Marco Polo. London 1871. Vol. 2, p. 185. - Pauthier, Le livre de Marco Polo. Paris 1865. Vol. 2, p. 577. - Masudi, Prairies d'Or. Editio Meynard et de Courteille. Paris 1861. Vol. 1, p. 367. - Ritter's Erdkunde von Asien. 1834. Vol.3, pp. 858-881.
The preparation of camphor in Japan was first described by Engelbert Kaempfer.1) Probably the Japanese learned the method of preparation from the Coreans. It is said to have first been introduced into the province Satsuma on Kiuschiu and later spread over the rest of Kiuschiu and over Schikoku and other parts of Japan.'2) The age of the production of camphor in Formosa is unknown. Klaproth3) who visited the island at the beginning of the past century refers to the production of camphor as one of the principal industries of Formosa. Since the occupation of the island by the Japanese, the distillation of camphor has been increased materially.
In medical practice camphor was known to the Arabians. In Italy it was used during the 11. century and in Germany during the 12. century.
Camphor oil was first brought to Europe in 1884. As principal constituent of the oil, Schimmel & Co. discovered safrol and isolated it on large scale.