A Legendary Soap Opera

Legend has it that soap got its name from an ancient Roman legend Mount Sapo. There, rain would wash down the mountain mixing with nutrients and ashes, resulting in a clay mixture found to make cleaning easier. 

From Babylon to our days 

“With water I bathed myself, with soda I cleansed myself, with oil from the basin I beautified myself.” 

The history of soap is a long one, dating back to as early as 2800 B.C. In ancient Babylon,  presently known as Iraq, a barrel with soap-like substances was found by archaeologists  evidencing that ancient Mesopotamians were the first to produce a kind of soap. Inscriptions on the historic clay cylinders read “fats boiled with ashes” in reference to the original method to make soap at the time. 

 Naturally scented soaps 

Over time, recipes for soap making became more widely known. Back then, plant byproducts,  animal and vegetable oils were the main ingredients of soap. 

The use of olive oil to make soap started around A.D. 1200 in France, more precisely in Marseille, which became an important center for soap production and is still renowned for its famous Savon de Marseille. These new vegetable-oil-based soaps, highly appreciated for their  mildness and purity and pleasant scent, had come into use as luxury items among Europe’s most privileged classes. 

Throughout the Levant, olive oil was traditionally used instead of animal lard. Aromatic herbs were often added to the rendered soap releasing their exquisite fragrance, such as yarrow leaves, lavender, gerrymander, etc. 

In Syria, soap was produced using olive oil together with alkali and lime. The most famous soap was and still is the Aleppo soap, a green, olive-oil-based bar soap infused with aromatic laurel oil. It became widely known as it was brought to Europe by Christian crusaders and traders. 

Soaping it up in Lebanon 

According to Pliny the Elder, the Phoenicians used goat's tallow and wood ash to create soap in 600 B.C.  

Soap making and selling process were introduced in Lebanon by Egyptian rulers in the 14th century, mostly in the north, namely in the city of Tripoli. 

The Soap Museum in Saida, restored in 2000, tells a lot about soap making history in Lebanon. The building, which dates back to the 13th century, became a soap factory in the 17th century until 1975. 

The work was well divided between men and women; the women came up usually with recipes and the men executed them. Orient 499 has been maintaining this tradition by collaborating with talented Lebanese craftsmen and women from Tripoli and Saida to make artisanal natural soaps boasting unique moisturizing characteristics.  


Made with pure natural ingredients such as olive oil and essential oils, our decorative grape soap releases the soothing fragrance of Jasmin of Arabia to soothe your spirit.  

All of our soaps are handmade and crafted using an ancestral technique and essentially, pure vegetal oil for a soft silky feel on the skin. 

Promoting the local artisanal art of soap making, Orient 499 is dedicated to supporting Lebanese craftsmen and craftswomen all over Lebanon while delivering the most natural yet luxurious products.

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