The African Frankincense: The Beloved Perfume of the Ancestral Guides of Punt
By Jide Uwechia
The Catholic church is one of the biggest buyers and users of incense in today’s world. Muslim Somalia, is the Roman Catholic’s Church biggest supplier. The Vatican mostly buys Somalian frankincense, the fabled perfume of the Gods of Punt, to burn for their own god Jesus the son of Mary.
Boswellia sacra grows in Ethiopia, Somalia, Oman, Yemen, Zanzibar, the ancient land of Punt. The Egyptians believed the land of Punt was the land of the gods and the air was perfurmed with the sweetest smelling incense and flower essence.
According to the Pharmaceutical Journal, in ancient Egypt frankincense was thought to be sweat of the gods.
“Frankincense was sent by camel train from Punt to Egypt, and from there to Europe. It was shipped from the ancient ports of Adulis, Axum, Sofala, Zanjibar, and Sumharan in Oman to ports in Persia, India and China.
It was the biggest item in ancient international trade, bigger than gold, especially when it is considered that the religions of those supernatural-centric ancients people adopted frankincense as an offering fit only for the gods. That was the original burnt offering pleasant to the nostrils of the gods not the smell of the burning flesh of the lamb as the later day Abraham-centric religions now claim.. Every temple in Europe, India, and east Asia had to have its supply of frankincense. And frankinsence came only from the land of Punt.
That is why, according to Matthew’s Gospel in the Bible, the Wise Men brought it as a gift to the infant Jesus. Gold: for a king, Myrrh: for a priest, and Frankincense: for a god. One should note that all those three treasures originated in Africa, and were the main stay of African international trading system for many millenia.
The Roman Empire coveted the frankincense trade. In the first century BCE, Augustus Caesar sent 10,000 troops to invade what the Romans called Arabia Felix (the gulf of Arabia and the adjacent coast of Punt, in today’s Somali, Ethiopia, and Tanzania) to find the source of frankincense and to control its production. The legions headed on south to Yemen with the hope of crossing the Red Sea onto the coasts and rich Ports of Ethiopia. However, marching from Yemen, they were driven back by the heat, mosquitoes, and the aridity of the desert. They never found the land of Punt, their would be Eldorado.
Africa’s frankincense trade went into decline three centuries ago, when Portugal fought the Moors of the coast of East Africa for dominance of the sea routes in the Eriterean sea, the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.
Frankincense and Cancer
Scientists have observed that there is some agent within frankincense which stops cancer spreading, and which induces cancerous cells to close themselves down. Currently, researchers are trying to find out what this is.
“Cancer starts when the DNA code within the cell’s nucleus becomes corrupted. Frankincense apparently has a re-set function. It appears able to tell the cell what the right DNA code should be.
A further action of Frankincense, separates the ‘brain’ of the cancerous cell – the nucleus – from the ‘body’ – the cytoplasm, and closes down the nucleus to stop it reproducing corrupted DNA codes.
Frankincense could revolutionise the treatment of cancer. Currently, with chemotherapy, doctors blast the area around a tumour to kill the cancer, but that also kills healthy cells, and weakens the patient. Treatment with frankincense could selectively eradicate the cancerous cells alone and allow the healthy ones to thrive.
Nine thousand years ago, the Africans then known as the Puntites gathered Frankinscence and used it for its curative and cleansing properties. It could be a key to the medical science of tomorrow.
September 20, 2010