Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries V
Looking East, Looking West: Europe and Arabia, 1450-1750
July 18-25, 2005
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Lesson Title: Using Perfume’s History and Manufacture to Investigate Pure Substances and Mixtures

Name: Catherine Bloedorn

Discipline: Chemistry

School: Hammond High School, Howard County, MD

Grade Level/Content Focus: Grades 9-12 / Chemistry (Properties of Matter)

Time Period: 2 class days

Teacher Background:
In chemistry, all of the material in the world is divided into elements, compounds, or mixtures. Mixtures can be further subdivided into homogenous and heterogeneous mixtures. Elements are made up of only one type of atom. Examples include helium (single He atoms) and oxygen (pairs of O atoms, in the form of O2 molecules.) Compounds are pure substances made up of a group of different elements. Examples include water (H2O). However, a compound is only those molecules. For example, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a different compound than water. Mixtures are two or more compounds or elements combined physically together. For example, salt water is a mixture made up of sodium chloride (table salt – NaCl) and water. Their atoms are, however, not chemically bonded together. Ethanol (ordinary alcohol), used as a solvent in this lesson, has the formula C2H5OH. It is similar, but still distinct from, methanol (wood alcohol – CH3OH) and isopropynol (rubbing alcohol – C3H7OH).

“When, in 711, a Muslim Berber army under Tarik ibn Ziyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain, Roderick , the last Visigothic king, was defeated, and his kingdom collapsed.

“The Moors, as the Berber conquerors were called, soon conquered the entire peninsula except for Asturias and the Basque country. Córdoba became the capital of the emir, who governed in the name of the Baghdad caliph. In 756, however, Abd ar-Rahman I, scion of the Umayyad dynasty, established an independent emirate. This Muslim state, which reached its greatest splendor under Abd ar-Rahman III, who set up the Western caliphate, or caliphate of Córdoba, included all but northernmost Spain. In the northeast, Charlemagne created (778) the Spanish March, out of which grew the county of Barcelona (i.e., Catalonia). In the W[est] Pyrenees, the Basques held out against both Frankish and Moorish attacks and eventually united in the kingdom of Navarre.

“Asturias, the only remnant of Visigothic Spain, became the focus of the Christian reconquest. The rulers of Asturias, who were descended from the semi-legendary Pelayo, conquered large territories in N[orth]W[est] Spain and consolidated them with Asturias as the kingdom of León. Navarre, under a branch of the Asturian line, reached its greatest prominence under Sancho III (1000-1035), who also controlled Aragón and Castile. His state split at his death into three kingdoms: Navarre, which soon lost its importance; Aragón, which united (1137) with Barcelona (see Aragón, house of ); and Castile, which was eventually united with León (1230) under Ferdinand III and with Aragón (1479) under Isabella I and Ferdinand V. This long process of unification was accomplished by marriage and inheritance as well as by warfare among the Christian kings; it was accompanied by the expansion of the Christian kingdoms at the expense of the Moors.

“The Umayyad empire had broken up early in the 11th cent[ury] into a number of petty kingdoms or emirates. The Abbadids of Córdoba were the most important of these dynasties. They called in the Almoravids from Africa to aid them against Alfonso VI of Castile. As a result, the Almoravids took over Moorish Spain, but they in turn were replaced (c.1174) by the Almohads, another Berber dynasty. In the battle of Navas de Tolosa (1212), a turning point in Spanish history, the Almohads were defeated by Alfonso VIII of Castile, whose successors conquered most of Andalusia. Little more than the kingdom of Granada remained in Moorish hands; it held out until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.

“Disunity among the Moors facilitated the Christian reconquest. However, the states of Christian Spain were also frequently engaged in bloody rivalry, and the Christian kings were in almost continuous conflict with the powerful nobles. Alliances between Muslim and Christian princes were not rare, and the Christian reconquest was a spasmodic, not a continuous, process. A major reason for the Christian victory was that Christian Spain was in a stage of dynamic expansion and religious enthusiasm while Moorish Spain, having attained a high degree of civilization and material prosperity, had lost its military vigor and religious zeal. In the Moorish cities Muslims, Jews, and Christians (see Mozarabs ) lived side by side in relative harmony and mutual tolerance. Their excellent artisans and industries were famous throughout Europe, and their commerce prospered.”


—From, “Spain”

Howard County Public School System – Chemistry


Goal 1. The student will demonstrate the ability to classify the different kinds of matter.


Objectives: The student will be able to:
• differentiate among an element, compound, homogenous mixture, or heterogeneous mixture; and
• differentiate between physically blended and chemically bonded.

Goal 2. The student will demonstrate the ability to explain how matter may be identified, classified, and changed.


Objectives: The student will be able to:
• contrast physical and chemical changes.

Goal 4. The student will demonstrate the ability to carry out scientific investigations effectively and employ the instruments, systems of measurement, and materials of science appropriately.

Specific Objectives:
The students will be able to:


• name the five techniques of perfume making;
• explain distillation and extraction;
• extract oil of clove; and
• explain the Islamic contributions to perfume-making.



• perfume
• distillation
• extraction
• essential oil
• still
• alembic

Materials and Resources:




al-Hassan, Ahmad Y. and Donald R. Hill. Islamic Technology: An Illustrated History. 1st ed.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Genders, Roy. Perfume Through the Ages. 1st ed. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1972.

Henry, William. The Elements of Experimental Chemistry. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Robert
Desilver, 1819. Plate I, Plate X.

Lebling, Jr., Robert W., and Norman MacDonald. “Flight of the Blackbird.” Al-Andalus. Ed.
Robert Arndt. Houston: Aramco Services Company, 2004. Pages 2-11.

Sagarin, Edward. The Science and Art of Perfumery. 2nd ed. New York: Greenburg, 1955.

Web Resources:


FSTC Limited. “Ziryab, the musician, astronomer, fashion designer, and gastronome.” June 13, 2003. Muslim Heritage. July 23, 2005.

“Jennifer Lopez.” July 23, 2005. Wikipedia. July 24, 2005.

Paul, Linda. “Pictures of Roses.” Linda Paul Studio. July 24, 2005.

Perfume Museum Barcelona. 2003. July 19, 2005.

“Spain.” Spain > History. 2005. July 24, 2005.

Other Materials:


“Spicy Perfume: Creation of a Mixture” lab procedure handout
• cloves (15 per group)
• small bottles with tightly fitting lids
• ethanol
• cotton swabs

Perfume PowerPoint Presentation, outlining the history and manufacture of perfumes

“Perfume Notes” note-taking worksheet

Map of Islamic World (useful but not required)

Lesson Abstract:
In this lesson, students will learn a small amount about the history of perfume in Muslim Spain. Students will make a simple perfume using cloves and ethanol. Students will also learn about the five techniques used in perfume making.

Lesson Components:




• Open a bottle of perfume (or aromatic extract such as vanilla, mint, etc.) and set it on a table near students. Display a picture of a perfume bottle, an alembic/distilling apparatus, and flowers (rose, jasmine, jonquil, etc.).
• Instruct students to consider these three objects and put them in order, then to justify the order they chose in once sentence.
(Example student response: Flower, still, perfume. The perfume starts as a flower, and goes into the still for processing, and then the final product is the perfume.)
• Discuss the orders that students have chosen, and why. Discuss why the students think there is an open bottle of perfume on the table



• Lead students through the Perfume PowerPoint Presentation on the history of perfume and its manufacture with the accompanying note-taking worksheet.
• This may be done at the end of Day One, if there is time, or at the beginning of Day Two.

Guided/Independent Practice:


• Hand out “Spicy Perfume: Creation of a Mixture” procedure sheet.
• Ask students to read over the procedure. Review the procedure with the students and direct them to the locations of the materials in the lab.
• Students will follow the lab procedure, as well as the safety procedure. Their product will sit until Day Two.
• On Day Two, have the students complete the data-gathering part of the lab.

Independent Practice:


• Break the students up into five groups.
• Assign each group one of the five techniques of perfume making.
• Refer each group to the list of words, in Spanish, related to the PowerPoint presentation, at the end of their notes.
• Each group will create a short story or skit (no more than 4 minutes to read or perform) about the history of perfume making, and their technique, in particular, with reference to Muslim Spain, and using at least two words in Spanish from their list.



• Students will complete questions at the end of “Spicy Perfume: Creation of a Mixture” for homework.



• Each group will perform or read their story or skit about perfume making to the rest of the class. It will be graded on the basis of fulfilling the above expectations.

Lesson Extension:


• Make another perfume out of other fragrant spices or flowers, using other solvents.
• Research Egyptian perfume making techniques, or modern ones.
• Write a story about Ziryab’s adventures in Muslim Spain.
• Run a complete distillation, using an alembic.
• Categorize other household products as pure substances or mixtures. Create other cosmetics.

Lesson PPT Presentation

Sponsored by
the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies
and the Maryland State Department of Education