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PAM: Incense burners at the Oasis of Tayma, northwest Arabia: an olfactory perspective

By March 19, 2020March 19th, 2024No Comments

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Dried resins such as frankincense or myrrh were important commodities in ancient societies due to their pleasant scent when burned. Burning aromatic fragrant smoke, used for a variety of functions in antiquity, is attested in both textual and iconographic sources. Since ephemeral phenomena such as smells and scents can be studied only through their indirect effects, investigating devices used to produce them provides important data. Incense burners are thus the essence of this investigation. Excavations at the oasis of Tayma revealed several vessels and cuboid containers, interpreted as incense burners, with preserved residues. This paper aims at presenting the assemblage of burners found at Tayma and to offer a sensory perspective on the use of aromatics in antiquity to provide new insights into the scented world of an ancient oasis.

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