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The Scent of Status: Prestige and Perfume at the Bronze Age Palace at Pylos, Greece

February 1, 2022 @ 6:00 pm EST Eastern Time

AIA Society: Tampa Bay

Lecturer: Joanne Murphy

The prominent position of the perfume industry at the Mycenaean palace of Pylos has long been known.  Both the archaeological remains and textual evidence indicate that perfume was a prestigious commodity at Pylos that was manufactured under palatial control at the palace itself. The finished product was a restricted commodity that was distributed by the wanax, the highest ranked individual at the palace. The fragrance of the perfumed oil would have been prominent at the palace creating both a physical and a sensory connection between the palace, its power, its prestige, and its wealth and the smell. While the smell of the manufacture of perfume would have been available to all who lived in and around the palace or even visited it, the finished refined perfume was only available to a limited few. This paper, thus, connects some well- and long-known data about perfume production at Pylos and combines them with more recent works on sensory anthropology, neuroscience, and biology.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Classen, Constance 1993 Worlds of Sense: Exploring the Senses in History and across Cultures. Routledge, London.

Shelmerdine, Cynthia W. 1985 The Perfume Industry of Mycenaean Pylos, Göteborg.

Howland Lecture

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February 1, 2022
6:00 pm EST
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Davide Tanasi


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