Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Primer on Frankincense with Just a Bit on Myrrh

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Primer on Frankincense with Just a Bit on Myrrh

Article excerpt

`FRANKINCENSE was valued more than gold," says Professor Juris Zarins of Southwest Missouri State University, an archaeologist who has studied frankincense's ancient trade routes. "It was a high-status item."

Moreover, Zarins and many biblical scholars believe that gold was not one of the Magi's three gifts to the infant Jesus. Regarding the "gold and frankincense and myrrh," the gold might have been a golden-colored frankincense, which is the highest quality, she says.

If this is true, the three kings actually gave the Christ child a gift of three types of Arabian incense: two kinds of frankincense and myrrh.

Some frank facts about this precious stuff:

What is it?

It's an aromatic resin secreted from the bark of a scraggly bush-like tree that grows only in three regions of the world: The Dhofar province of southwestern Oman; the Hadhramaut area of Yemen; and northern Somalia. The resin is usually burned as incense.

Why was it so important?

Everyone in the ancient world craved the stuff. It was crucial to the religious rites and funeral ceremonies of nearly all people in the known world. …

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