ERIGAVO, SOMALILAND —
The ancient trade in frankincense starts here in the remote hills of Somaliland.
Frankincense, the dried sap of the frankincense tree, has been a valued commodity for millennia. Egyptian pharaohs traded for the gum, and Christians know frankincense as one of the gifts the three wise men brought to the baby Jesus, according to the New Testament.
Since those biblical times, people in the Cal Madow Mountains have tapped the trees for their resin, which is burned as sweet incense.
Frankincense remains a popular Christmastime gift, but it is also used in churches, French perfumes and cosmetics. Much of the world’s supply comes from Somaliland, including at least one of the most sought-after species.