'Fragrant poo of the Rock hyrax'

Did you know that there is an odor extract made from the fossil droppings of the Rock hyrax? Way back I found a bottle containing this substance with a name appealing to the imagination: 'Pierre d'Afrique’.  At that moment I had no idea what it was, I thought it suggested stones from Africa and then wondered how one could distill this. Meanwhile I know better and since yesterday the visitors of the ‘friends day’ in the Natural History Museum also. For this occasion I created a fragrance experience in this museum, in which I went looking for smells that are connected with the museum. One of the exhibitions is called "Picked up and cut out". Fossils in all shapes and sizes. The museum also houses a fossil crap of a Hyena. Which brought me back to the idea of droppings of the Rock hyrax.

Fossil crap of a Hyena at 
the Natural History museum Rotterdam

But how does someone get the idea to use fossil droppings from a rock hyraxas a medicine or in a perfume? In South Africa in the Gamas Gorge, a remote area that could only be reached by foot until 1963, this rocky fossilized substance in traditional medicine was used in epileptic seizures. It appears that this contains similar ingredients that can be found in modern medicines for this disease. Rock hyraxes have the habit of always to defecate in the same place, as if they were latrines. Year after year this becomes a huge thick sticky mass in which various plant material is enclosed. In the (thousands) of years that follow, this mass 'fossils' through drought and the so-called 'Pierre d'Afrique' (Hyraceae) arises.

Nowadays, this material is mainly exported to France and used as an 'animal' note in perfumes, often combined with other animal scents such as civet or musk. We prefer a little bit of dirt in our perfumes. It makes a fragance interesting; as if it were a 'dissonant' note in a music chord.

Fragrant workshops or lectures on scent: www.connectingscents.com/index.html#fragrant-topics

Natural History Museum Rotterdam: www.hetnatuurhistorisch.nl

(Dutch version of this blog: Geurambassadeur)    

Fragrant poo?


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