Saturday, 1 January 2022

'gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh'

In the Bible, the wise men “saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Frankincense and myrrh had been in use for thousands of years and were extremely expensive in ancients times - as much or more than gold. Frankincense was mixed with various spices to form incense, and myrrh was used by the ancient Egyptians as an embalming agent. Both substances are produced from the resin of trees in the Burseraceae family. An incision is made in the trunk of the tree and the resin is drained and dried. Frankincense comes from Boswellia trees, myrrh from Commiphora trees.
The frankincense-producing Boswellia sacra is native to Oman, Yemen and Somalia. As the source of high quality frankincense, it has been widely over harvested into modern times. Myrrh is collected from Comiphora wightii, which is native to parts of Pakistan and India. It is critically endangered due to over-harvesting.