650-year-old perfume bottle survives the Black Death

Maev Kennedy takes a tour around the treasures of the Black Death exhibition at The Wallace Collection, London, including a tiny perfume bottle that was owned by a victim of a superstitious anti-plague pogrom.

The miniature bottle was worn on a chain attached at the owner's waist. Researchers believe the woman was murdered or driven out of her home town in Germany as superstitious locals sought scapegoats whom they could purge to get rid of the Black Plague.

Although enough scent remains for the human nose to detect the aroma, researchers could not recover enough of the perfume to analyze its ingredients. One interesting sidenote, however, is that the bottle was stoppered with a wad of cotton, which would have been rare in Europe at that time.