Ancient Attraction: Guests, Gods, Heroes and Heirarchs: The Fragrant Few of Mycenaean Pylos
Ancient Attraction is a Digital Lecture Series on Beauty, Attractiveness and Sex Appeal in the Ancient Mediterranean World
The lecture: Guests, Gods, Heroes and Heirarchs: The Fragrant Few of Mycenaean Pylos is presented by Dr. Mary Jane Cuyler, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo, Norway
About the lecture
When the Mycenaean stronghold known as the Palace of Nestor at Pylos was destroyed by fire at the end of the 13th century BCE, the heat of the flames preserved a vast quantity of clay administrative documents. 53 of these tablets deal with the production, inventory and allocation of perfumed or treated oils. Modern excavation of the palace also revealed that two of the most guarded and innermost rooms were set aside exclusively for the storage of massive amounts of these oils, a testament to their extraordinary value. This lecture explores the properties of the aromatics that were infused into these oils and then turns to an examination of the possible use and function of these scents. Finally, we explore the crucial question: Who had access to these precious scents, and how could these oils have increased their power and allure?
About Dr. Cuyler
Mary Jane Cuyler is assistant professor of classics and archaeology at the MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society where she holds a post-doc as an archaeologist for the EU-funded DEChriM project. Although in recent years her research and publications have focused principally on the Roman harbor of Ostia, her master’s research focused on Mycenaean pottery, Linear B, and the perfume industry of Mycenaean Pylos.
Suggestions for further Reading
- Cuyler, Mary Jane. “Rose, Sage, Cyperus and e-ti: The Adornment of Olive Oil in the Palace of Nestor,” in KOSMOS: Jewelry, Adornment and Textiles in the Aegean Bronze Age (Aegaeum 33), M.-L. Nosch and R. Laffineur, eds., (2012), 655 -662.
- Lupack, Susan. “Offerings for the Wanax in the Fr Tablets: Ancestor Worship and the Maintenance of Power in Mycenaean Greece,” in KE-RA-ME-JA: Studies Presented to Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, D. Nakassis, J. Gulizio and S. James, eds., (2015), 163-177.
- Murphy, Joanne. “The Scent of Status: Prestige and Perfume at the Bronze Age Palace at Pylos, Greece,” in Making Senses of the Past: Toward a Sensory Archaeology (Center for Archaeological Investigations, 40). Jo Day, ed., (2012), 243-265
- Weilhartner, Jörg. “Religious offerings in the Linear B tablets: an attempt at their classification and some thoughts about their possible purpose,” in Faventia (Supp. 1). Carlos Varias García, ed., Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2012), 207-231.
A Digital Lecture Series on Beauty, Attractiveness and Sex Appeal in the Ancient Mediterranean World
The purpose of this lecture series is to investigate concepts of beauty and attractiveness in ancient cultures, and to explore how these concepts relate to gender, hierarchy and power.
Five excellent international researchers, experts on the material cultures and texts of the ancient Mediterranean, will each present a 30-minute lecture, followed by amble time for questions and discussion.
We are interested in mapping ancient attractiveness as broadly as possible and therefore we encourage our speakers to consider beauty from a multi-sensorial perspective and to give thought to both touch, smell, taste, hearing and vision in constructions of beauty and sex appeal.
The lecture series is organized by Professor Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme and hosted by The Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo and the Faculty’s research group Biblical Texts, Cultures and Receptions.
Digital event - how to participate
The seminar will be held digitally due to Covid-19. If you wish to attend the the conference you need to register in advance.
- A zoom link will be sent to you before the event.
- You can download Zoom or use your browser: https://zoom.us/download
- This lecture is part of the lecture series Ancient Attraction