Salalah Frankincense

Salalah: Part B - Frankincense

Oscar White Muscarella

Research Fellow - Retired

Ancient Near Eastern Department

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York, New York


Dear Dr. Muscarella,

Cc: Family and Friends

Oscar, I am sure that you are familiar with the Biblical passage from the Book of Matthew referring to the Gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. But perhaps it is puzzling for the modern mind to understand that two plant products, two dried resins, were once equivalent in value to gold. 

Frankly, I was not familiar with the properties of frankincense.  But apparently, from ancient times (8000 years ago?) until today, the medicinal as well as religious uses of frankincense (and myrrh) are well-known and well-respected.