Like its geographic source, so the history of frankincense coincides very nearly with that of myrrh. However, as a spice gum, it was chewed and for incense purposes it appears to have been used earlier than myrrh. In addition to the literary sources mentioned under myrrh,1) the age of such uses is indicated by recent investigations.2) Its most common application and largest use, frankincense found as incense in the religious cults of most of the peoples of antiquity. As such it was adopted by the Roman and Greek Catholic churches. Its use as incense, either by itself3) or with myrrh4) and other spices was especially esteemed in the temple service of the Hebrews, who obtained these spices through the Phoenicians.5) Frankincense was also transported by caravan to Persia and Babylonia.6) Indeed, the trafic in frankincense and myrrh exerted a great influence on the commerce of the coastlands of the Red Sea.
1) Runge, Adjurationen, Exorcismen, Benedictionen bei Gottesgerichten. In Mittheilungen der antiquarischen Gesellschaft in Zurich. Vol. 12 (1859), fascicle 5, p. 187.
2) H. Gualtherus Ryff, New gross DestHIirbuch. 1545. fol. 275 b.
3) Valerii Cordi De artificiosis extractionibus. De destillatione oleorum. Tiguri 1540. p. 216.
4) Euonymi Philiatri Ein kdstlicher theurer Schatz. Zurich 1555. p. 237. 5) Frederici Hoffmannii Observationes physico-chemicarum selectiores. Halae 1722. Vol. 1, p. 20.
6) Caspar Neumann, Medizinische Chemie. Editio Kessel. 1749-1755. Vol. 2, p. 375.
7) J. R. Spielmann, Institutiones chemiae praelectionibus academicis accommodatae. Argentorat. 1763. p. 221.
8) Crell's Neueste Entdeckungen in der Chemie 2 (1781), 118.
9) Trommsdorff's Journ. der Pharm. 18, I. (1809), 149.
10) Examen chimiques de quelques gommes-re'sines. Annal. de Chim. 80 (1811). Bull, de Pharm. 4 (1812), 54. Schweigger's Journ. f. Chem. u. Phys. 5 (1812), 245.
11) Buchholz, Taschenbuch fur Scheidekunstler und Apotheker. 1819, 125.
Among other writers Herodotus,7) Plutarch,8) Theophrastus,9) and Athenasos,10) later Strabon,11) Dioscorides12) and Pliny,13) also Arrian14) make mention of the importance of frankincense.15)
1) See pp. 153 and 154.
2) Cruttendon, in Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society. Vol. 7 (1846), p. 121. - Chishull, Antiquitates Asiaticae. London 1728. pp. 65 - 72. - Harris, The Highlands of Abyssinia. Description of the Frankincense tree in Guardafui. London 1844.
3) Exodus, 30:34. - Leviticus, 2: 1, 2, 15, 16; 5:11; 6:15. - 1. Chronicles, 10:29. - Song of Solomon, 4:14. - Isaiah, 43:23; 60:6. - Jeremiah, 6:20. - Matthew, 2:11.
4) See p. 153, footnote 3 and 4.
5) p. 6. - Movers, Das phonicische Alterthum. 1856. Vol.3, pp.99 and 299.
6) Sprenger, Die alte Geographie Arabiens. Bern 1875. pp. 212, 218, 219, 230, 264, 282, 284, 299, 308.
7) Herodoti Historiarum libri IX. Editio Rawlinson. 1858. Vol. 2, p. 488.
8) Fluckiger, Pharmakognosie. 1891. p. 50.
9) Theophrasti Eresii Opera quae supersunt omnia. Historia planta-rum Liber IV, cap. 4 and Liber IX, cap. 4. - Editio Wimmer. Vol. 1, pp. 66 and 143.
10) Athenaei Dipnosophistarum libri XV. pp. 253, 289 and 309.
11) Strabonis Geographica. Lib. XVI, cap. 4. - Meyer, Botanische Er-lauterungen zu Strabo. Konigsberg 1852. pp. 137 - 139. - Meyers Geschichie der Botanik. Konigsberg 1855. Vol. 2, p. 88.
12) Dioscoridis De materia medica libri quinque. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel. Vol. 1, p. 24.
13) Plinii Naturalis historian libri. Lib. XII, p. 41. Editio Littre. p. 489. 14) Periplus maris erythraei. In Caroli Mulleri Geographi Graeci minores.
Paris 1855. Vol. 1, pp. 264-265.
15) Hebrew Lebonah, Latin. Thus (from d-Cstv, to sacrifice).
The distilled oil of frankincense was known to Valerius Cordus, but it is seldom mentioned in literature. In the treatises on distillation of the 16. century frankincense is mentioned as one of the many substances used in the distillation of the complex balsams e. g. by Gesner.1) Oil of frankincense is first found as Oleum thuris in the drug ordinances of the city of Berlin for 1574, and of Frankfurt-on-the-Main for 1587; further in the Dispensatorium Nor/cum of the year 1589.
The older investigations of frankincense as to content of volatile oil as well as the properties of the oil were mostly made in connection with like investigations of oil of myrrh of which the more important have been mentioned on p. 153.
Special observations concerning the oil and its constituents were made by Joh. E. Baer2) in 1787 and by Johnston3) in 1839. The first investigation of the oil was made by Stenhouse4) in 1840.