Frankincense is the resin produced by various trees in the genus Boswellia.
The trees grow in the dry areas of north-eastern Africa and southern
Arabia. The resin is harvested by nomadic tribes, who visit the trees
periodically. They make small cuts in the bark and return to collect
the tears of solidified whitish resin a few weeks later.
Trees can yield several kilogrammes of resin each year.
Frankincense has long been valued for the sweet-smelling fumes it produces
when burnt. Ancient Egyptians used the resin in religious rites, in anointing
the mummified bodies of their kings, and to treat wounds and sores. Incense
containing frankincense was found in Tutankhamun's tomb. In the Christian
faith, frankincense was one of the three gifts given to the infant Jesus
by the Wise Men. It is still used in religious ceremonies by the Parsees,
cultural descendants of the Wise Men.
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