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Title: The Greek sense of smell : olfactory perception and the sociocultural roles of perfume in antiquity
Author: Grant, Grainne Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 7780
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2014
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Olfactory perception is as sociocultural a phenomenon as it is a physiological one. Scents of all types and the meanings assigned to them contribute to and shape human cultures, and humans have deliberately manipulated smells to sway the opinions and value judgements of others since, at the very least, the dawn of agriculture. ‘Smellscapes’ define our environments. How we smell what we smell and why we interpret what we smell the way we do are inextricably intertwined, and this was no less true in the Classical world. When we study how people in antiquity examined the sense of smell in general and the corresponding roles of perfume in particular, we see many of the same issues and questions being raised as concern scientists today. Applying modern models to ancient practices can enhance insight into Greek and Roman cultures. This paper will discuss physiological olfactory perception as the authors in the Classical and Hellenistic periods defined and described that, and will examine the primary literature regarding perfume in order to provide a specific example of one way in which we can be initiated into the mysteries of a different and long-gone cultural sensorium through the written word.
Supervisor: Wilkins, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: olfaction ; smell ; perfume ; history of the senses