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Frankincense is an aromatic resin obtained from the tree Boswellia thurifera or B. sacra. It is used in incense. According to the Gospel of Matthew 2:11, gold, frankincense and myrrh were the three gifts brought to Jesus by the Three Wise Men 'from out of the east.' Frankincense was lavishly used in pagan rites. It was said that the Roman Emperor Nero burned a year's worth of frankincense intended for the city of Rome at the funeral of his wife Poppea. The growth of Christianity depressed the market for frankincense during the fourth century, desertification made the caravan trails leading across the Rub al Khali or 'Empty Quarter' of Arabia more difficult, and increased raiding by the nomadic Parthians in the Near East combined to dry up the frankincense trade after ca 300 CE.

The lost city of Ubar, sometimes identified with Irem, in what is now Oman, is believed to have been a centre of the frankincense trade along the recently-rediscovered 'Incense Road.' Ubar was rediscovered in the early 1990s and is now under archaeological excavation.