The history of myrrh is inseparable from that of frankincense. Both come from the same countries. From early antiquity on, both have found like application in religious cults. In the commerce of the spices, both have played an important role. Hence myrrh and frankincense are almost invariably mentioned together in the oldest writings. As their geographic source, mythical Arabia and the coast lands along the south end of the Red Sea, the Punt or Phun of Egyptian documents, are mentioned.1) As precious spices for burnt offerings, for the purpose of embalming and anointing,-) both resins are frequently mentioned in Sanskrit writings, in the Vedas, in the Bible,'5) in the Koran, in the Papyrus Ebers and in the writings of Greek, Roman and Arabian authors. Moreover, they are frequently confounded with each other.4)
1) Jo. Batt. Portae, Neapolitans Mag/as naturalis libri viginti etc. Roma? 1563. fol. 118.
2) Menagio, Origini de/Ja lingua Italiana. 1685. - Dictionnaire de Trevoux. - Paris 1771. Vol. 6, p. 178.
2) The names Naphe" and Naphore probably had their origin in Languedoc. (Risso and Poiteau, Histoire naturelle des Orangers. Paris 1818. Edition Du Breuil 1872. p. 211.) - Orange flower water was distilled in the laboratories of German apothecary shops as early as the middle of the 17. century. (Simonis Paulli Quadripartitum botanicum de simplicium medicamentorum facultatibus etc. Argentorati 1667. p. 385.)
4) Berl. Jahrbuch der Pharm. 1806, 256.
5) Journ. de Pharm. II. 11 (1825), 529.
6) Journ. de Pharm. II. 14 (1828), 496. - Trommsdorffs Neues Journ. der Pharm. 19, I. (1829), 226.
1) Agatharchides. In Geographi Graeci minores. - De mari Erythraeo. p. 87. - Arrianos, Anabasis. Lib. VII, 20 and 22. - Diodori Bibliotheca historica. Lib. 19, cap. 24. - Kosmas Indopleustes, Topographia Christiana in Migne's Patro/ogiae cursus completes. Series Grasca. 1860. Vol. 88, p. 374. - G. A. Haggenmacher, Erganzungsheft zu Petermanns Geogra-phischen Mitteilungen. 1876, 19. - I. M. Hildebrandt Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin. 19. November 1878. p. 195. - K. Niebuhr, Beschreibung von Arabien. Copenhagen 1772. pp. 282 and 286. - H. Brugsch-Bey, Geschichte Aegyptens unter den Pharaonen. 1877. pp.109, 110, 113, 281, 314. - Revoil, Voyages au Cap des Aromates. Paris 1880. pp. 136, 184, 227, 255, 259, 276, 283.
2) For the preparation of the sacred oil, used according to Jewish ritual for the anointing of the high priests, the "pure myrrh" (Exodus 30:23) was prescribed. It was the exudation that flowed naturally (Song of Solomon, 5:5 and 13), hence it was also called tears or flowing myrrh (Stakte) (Exodus, 30:34). The wives of the Persian kings and the garbs of the kings were perfumed with myrrh. (Esther, 2: 12. - Psalms, 45:9. - Proverbs, 7:17). As a precious spice, myrrh was brought by the magi from the Orient to the new born King of the Jews (Matth, 2:11). Roman soldiers refreshed Christ, while on the cross, with wine and myrrh (Mark 15:23), and Nicodemus brought myrrh for the embalming of his body (John, 19:39).
3) Exodus, 30:23; 37:25.- Psalms, 45:9. - Proverbs, 7:17. Song of Solomon, 1:13; 3 : 6; 4 :14; and 5:5 and 13. - Mark, 15:23. - Matthew, 2:11. - John, 19:39.
4) Statements concerning the origin and history of myrrh and frankincense may be found in the following treatises: Papyrus Ebers of the University Library at Leipzig and of the Royal Library at Berlin. - Herodoti Historiarum libri IX. Lib. III. 107. - Theophrasti Historia plantarum Lib. IX, cap. 4. - Plutarchi Moralia lsis et Osiris. V. 383. - Diodori Bibliotheca historica Lib. V, cap. 41 and Lib. XIX, cap. 94. - Luciani Opera, Drapetui p. 1. - Athensei Dipnosophistarum libri XV, pp. 101 and 464. - Apulei Meta-morphoseon Lib. 8 and 10. - Dioscoridis De materia medica libri V. Lib. 1, cap. 24, 78 and 81. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel 1829. Vol. 1, p. 78. - Plinii Naturalis historiae libri. Lib. XII, 15, 16, 30-35 and Lib. XIV, 15. - Dumichen, Geschichte des alien Aegyptens. In Oncken's Allgemeiner Welt-geschichte. Grabpal. d. Petam. Vol. 2, pp. 12 - 34 - Periplus maris Ery-thrasi. Lib. IX, cap. 4. - Vincent, Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian Ocean. London 1807. Vol. 2, pp. 316 and 698. - Chishull, Antiquitates asiaticae. London 1728, p. 71. D. Hanbury, Science Papers 1876. pp. 378-382. - Comp. also Sigismund, Die Aromata. Leipzig 1884. pp. 6 - 13.
Upon the disappearance of sacrifical customs, the consumption of both resins decreased. The Roman Catholic and the Greek Catholic chruches, however, continued to use them, even in the ordeals of the inquisition.1)
With the cessation of the use of myrrh for incense purposes in antiquity, its use was restricted more and more to medicine, perfumery and cosmetics and hence gained in importance in the treatises on distillation and medical treatises of the middle ages.
Distilled oil of myrrh was well known to Walter Ryff,'2) Valerius Cordus3) and Conrad Gesner4). In the price ordinances of medicines and spices it first occurs in that of Frankfurt-on-the-Main of 1587, and in pharmacopoeias first in the Dispen-satorium Nor/cum of 1589.
Observations on the method of preparation and yield of oil of myrrh were made in the course of the 18. century by Fr. Hoffmann,5) Caspar Neumann,6) }. R. Spielmann,') Thielebein,8) and later by Braconnot,9) Pelletier10) and Rudolf Brandes.11)