48th Seminar for Arabian Studies (25-27 july 2014, London) : “The trade of aromatics during the Islamic period”

“The trade of aromatics during the Islamic period”

S. Le Maguer, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

This paper deals with the incenses that were traded and used in the Islamic world from the 7th to the 16th century. Many researches and publications deal with the Ancient aromatics trade, but only few focuses on this trade during the Islamic period. This paper intends to present the results obtained from a multidisciplinary methodology.

To identify the main substances used as incense, medieval Arabic sources, like the Kitāb al-nabāt written by Al-‘Asma’ī and Abū Ḥanīfa al-Dīnawarī, or Ibn al-Bayṭār’s Jāmiʿ li-mufradāt al-adwiya wa’l-ag̲h̲d̲h̲iya are of great interest. These textual sources are then compared to modern botanical studies and chemical analyses of the substances found in archaeological contexts. This allows us to map the distribution of these materials in order to enlighten the main trade routes across the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Peninsula.

This research offers a new perspective on the commercial relations between the Eastern Mediterranean world and the Indian Ocean through the Arabian Peninsula and its bordering seas in the Medieval Islamic world.

Arabia, aromatics, botany, trade, Medieval Islam.

AVANZINI A., 1998, Profumi d’Arabia, Roma: L’Erma di Bretschneider.

GROOM N., 1981, Frankincense and Myrrh, Beirut: Librairie du Liban.


The full program with more exciting lectures can be find here: https://www.thebfsa.org/sites/default/files/SAS%20Draft%20Prog%2014%20v4.pdf

Sterenn Le Maguer-Gillon

Archéologue, titulaire d'un doctorat (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), spécialiste de la péninsule Arabique et des pays du Golfe.

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