The Laeotropic Aspect

Resins: Outline and Bibliography

Points to report on:
In short:
Frankincense, Boswellia sacraor carterii?, is a sappy substance that is harvested very carefully from under the bark of trees in Somalia, Oman, Yemen, and Southern Arabia. The ancient S. Yemeni kingdom of Hadramawt was a major producer, but the trade route was arduous and considered 'camel dependent'. The National Geographic article cited below is a good presentation of it, even for the non-layman who is unfamiliar with the area and product. It was a religious incense (Nero was said to use over a year's worth of production of the resin at Poppaea's funeral), as well as medicinal uses that continue into this day among holistic health afficianados.

Terebinth resin (from Pistacia terebinthus or atlantica?, not vera). Despite the Latin name, it is not the pistachio nut we know today. Is is an oil that comes from the nut/seed of the plant, however. It came probably from Persian areas, or the northern regions of what we consider the Near East. 'West of the land of Ephraim', in the Bible. There was a major find of Canaanite jars of this resin on the Ulu Burun wreck. It had a symbolic/religious meaning as a food of the brave and austere, but had (probably more common) perfume and cosmetic uses.

Abercrombie, Thomas J., "Arabia's Frankincense Trail," National Geograpic 1985, 474-513
Haldane, Cheryl Ward, "Shipwrecked Plant Remains," Biblical Archaeologist 53,1 (1990) 55-60
Roberts, David, "On the Frankincense Trail," Smithsonian 28,2 (1998) 122-134
Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Heleen, "Persian Food: Stereotypes and political identity," in Food in Antiquity (Exeter, 1995)
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