Archives par mot-clé : Ancient Greece

Workshop: Scents of Religious Authority

Scents of Religious Authority

At this workshop, we take a cross-cultural look at the scents of religious authority in sources from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Medieval Europe. We will read about and smell the scent of divinity and death as they pertain to religious figures and their claims to authority.


Guest Speaker: Joëlle Rollo-Koster, Rhode Island, “The Fragrance of Authority: Did Medieval Folks Smell Power? And Did Power Want to be Smelled?”


Abstract: “Growing from research undertaken for my latest book, The Great Western Schism, 1378-1417: Performing Legitimacy, Performing Unity (CUP, 2022) my new project emphasizes the sense of smell as a vehicle to inculcate political authority. While seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching are overly emphasized by the historiography, smell has not been fully considered. Looking at the ceremonials surrounding the granting of the Golden Rose, a precious object that the pope offered to the most ardent defensor of Christianity of his time, I will discuss how the rose taught its audience (via its aroma) how to recognize legitimate authority, and maybe how authorities “controlled” this smell to assert themselves.”


Hosted by Alchemies of Scent, Department for the Study of Ancient and Medieval Thought & Centre for Medieval Studies, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences.




10.00–10.30. Scent in the Egyptian Temple: Worshipping the Gods with Fragrance in the Daily Ritual (Heike Wilde)

10.40–11.10. “Death seems to me today like the fragrance of myrrh”: Scent and stench in the Egyptian realm of the dead (Diana Míčková)

11.20–11.50. Later Greek Medical Sources of Religious Scents (Sean Coughlin)

12.00–13.30. Lunch

14.00–16.00. The Fragrance of Authority: Did Medieval Folks Smell Power? And Did Power Want to be Smelled? (Joëlle Rollo-Koster)

18.00. Dinner



10.00–12.00. Smelling: rose, “musks,” balsam

12.00–13.30. Lunch

13.30–17.00. Blending and experiment



Participation is free, but registration is required as space is limited. Email to register.

Day 1 (Morning), Day 2: Husova 7, 110 00 Prague

Day 1 (Afternoon): Jilská 1, 110 00 Prague


ONLINE (via Zoom)

Meeting ID: 987 8737 9977

Passcode: 253969

Sterenn Le Maguer

Archéologue spécialiste de la péninsule Arabique et du commerce dans l'océan Indien, vacataire à l'Institut catholique de Paris, chercheure associée au CEFREPA.

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