A Comparative History of Ancient Egyptian and Modern Perfumery
Listen in on conversations between Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith and perfumer Roxana Villa in a brand-new course format, where they compare ancient Egyptian perfumery with modern perfumery. Dora Goldsmith, the world’s leading expert on the olfactory culture of ancient Egyptian society, converses with award-wining artist and pioneer of botanical perfume, Roxana Villa to demonstrate how their knowledge and passion in their respective fields complement one another. Dora and Roxana have found that through the method of interdisciplinary comparisons, we can gain a deeper level of understanding of both ancient Egyptian and modern perfumery. Join the Egyptologist and the perfumer in this innovative series that combines conversation with education, theory with practice, and ancient Egypt with perfume.
Each online class offers live instruction with handouts, and a period of time reserved for Q&A.
Besides the live instruction and handouts, Dora and Roxana have meticulously assembled kits and discovery sets to further your studies. These are NOT required but are a rare treat to indulge your knowledge. Find a description of each class in this series below, jump over to this page to learn about the kits and discovery sets.
*The workshops take place online, LIVE on Sundays at 6pm Berlin, Germany time / 10am Santa Fe, NM, US time, use the time zone converter here to calculate the time in your city.
➵ PERFUME DRINKS, OCTOBER 1, 2023
The history & development of perfume drinks from ancient Egypt to the modern era
We will start the series by discussing the intersection of perfumery and cocktail-making. Why did the ancient Egyptians produce scented alcoholic beverages? How were their fragrant drinks different from their perfumes? Why did alcoholic perfume drinks, such as Eau de Hongrie, become significant in the Middle Ages and why do they hallmark the beginning of modern perfumery? Why have perfume drinks and perfume bars regained popularity in recent years and are they as innovative as they seem?
➵ METHODOLOGY, OCTOBER 8, 2023
A comparison of the methods of ancient Egyptian and modern perfumery
Dora and Roxana will explore the similarities and differences between the methods of ancient Egyptian and modern perfumery. How did the ancient Egyptians release and capture scent? What methods did they apply to transform raw materials into powders, oils, tars and ointments? What are some of the more modern methods of perfumery that the ancient Egyptians did not have at their disposal? The comparisons will teach us whom the methods of the ancient Egyptian perfumers are the closest to in the modern age: aromatherapists, herbalists, artisan perfumers, natural perfumers or synthetic perfumers.
➵ MATERIALS, OCTOBER 15, 2023
A comparison of the base materials, binders and aromatics of ancient Egyptian and modern perfumery
The series will continue with a comparison of base materials, binders and aromatics. Are the base materials and binders of ancient Egyptian perfumery still used in the modern age, and if yes, by whom? The use of aromatics in ancient Egyptian perfumery will be compared to modern perfumery to emphasize their profoundly distinctive use and to comprehend how significantly perfumery has changed since ancient times in the application of its raw materials, its overall attitude to the profession, and also what we may simply refer to as “olfactory taste”. The discussion on aromatics will also deconstruct some myths: Dora will clarify which are the perfume ingredients often falsely claimed to have been used by the ancient Egyptians.
➵ RECIPES AND FORMULAS & SOCIAL STATUS of PERFUMERS, OCTOBER 22, 2023
A comparison of written recipes and the social status of perfumers
Dora and Roxana will converse about the secrecy of perfume formulas and the social status of the perfumer. Why were perfume recipes closely guarded secrets in ancient Egypt and still are in the modern era? What does a perfumer require in a written formula to be able to replicate a perfume 100%. Is it possible at all to replicate a perfume 100% based on a written document? What is the importance of oral tradition in perfumery? Why has the social status of perfumers changed drastically since ancient times? Is the profession of the ancient Egyptian perfumer truly that different from that of the modern perfumer?
➵ WOMEN and PERFUME, NOVEMBER 5, 2023
Goddesses and leading female figures of perfumery: Hathor, Aphrodite/Venus, Maria the Jewess, Hildegard von Bingen and Catherine de Medici
Goddesses and women have been the leading figures of perfumery throughout the ages. Dora will introduce you to the perfect olfactory world of the goddess Hathor. What aspects did Hathor encompass in her figure as the goddess of perfumery and most fragrant deity of the Egyptian pantheon? What perfumes and scented products were associated with Hathor and why? Roxana will explore the decisive role of Aphrodite and Venus in the perfumes of classical antiquity. Roxana will continue the historical thread by explaining how the famous female figures Mary the Jewess, Cleopatra the Alchemist, Hildegard von Bingen and Catherine de Medici shaped the history of perfumery and may be seen as the mothers of modern perfumery.
➵ AROMATHERAPY, NOVEMBER 12, 2023
A comparison of fragrant remedies from ancient Egypt and modern aromatherapy
We will delve into the world of aromatherapy or healing through scents. Dora will explain how ancient Egyptian physicians used fragrant plant matter with the purpose of healing and how priests appeased the gods in the temples with pleasant aromas. As a perfumer who entered the world of scents through aromatherapy decades ago, Roxana will define the differences between perfumery, aromatherapy and herbalism, as well as their intersections. Where do the ancient Egyptian medicinal customs and fragrant rituals fall from a modern standpoint? Can fragrant remedies from ancient Egypt be considered aromatherapy? How about pacifying a raging deity with the help of fragrances?
➵ PERFUMERY of DEATH, NOVEMBER 19, 2023
A comparison of ancient Egyptian embalming fragrances and modern perfumes composed for transitioning and funerals
We will conclude the comprehensive series by discussing the connection of perfumes and death. What kind of scented products did the ancient Egyptians design for their eternal life? Funerary perfume recipes show the intention of planning ahead for the burial and producing specific perfumes for afterlife that are different from everyday perfumes. Unique blends for our last months on earth and for our final departure have been increasingly welcome in recent years. What changed in our modern perspective that had made us return to this ancient Egyptian custom? Roxana will describe the perfumes she composed for transitioning from this life to the next.
➵ BONUS CLASS, NOVEMBER 26, 2023
Walk through Roxana’s perfumery & Dora’s library
A digital walk through the working perfumery of Roxana and the perfume library of Dora.
Certification: Workshop Requirements
To receive a Certificate of Completion you must attend the complete series.
Since each workshop will be live and NOT recorded, it is important to make a commitment to attending.
KITS & DISCOVERY SETS: A limited number of kits and perfume discovery sets will be offered by Dora & Roxana, these are NOT required. Check here for details.
IMPORTANT: Each of these classes are LIVE, a recording will be available for one week under certain conditions. There are no refunds if you are not able to attend one or all of the classes.
This workshop series and individual classes are copyrighted, no portion may be recorded or duplicated without written permission from Dora Goldsmith and/or Roxana Villa.
ABOUT OUR INSTRUCTORS
Dora Goldsmith is an Egyptologist whose research focuses on the sense of smell in ancient Egypt. Based on the written sources, Dora investigates the ancient Egyptians' perception of the world through the sense of smell and recreates their smellscape. Her published works include the concept of stench in ancient Egypt (2019), the scents of mummification (2019) and the smellscape of ancient Egyptian cities (2020). Dora has presented lectures and workshops around the world accompanied by her scent reconstructions, where the long-lost world of the ancient Egyptians comes back to life through the nose. Two of her scent reconstructions, the Mendesian and the scent of mummification, have been exhibited in museums around the world.
Roxana Villa is an expert and pioneer in plant fragrance, she is one of the world’s foremost authorities and speakers in the field of botanical perfume, presenting her visionary synthesis of alchemy, scent and ecology to audiences worldwide, including Bastyr University. Deep roots in aromatherapy and the visual arts give Roxana a unique foundation. Professional training in aromatherapy cultivated the nose and a firm knowledge in healing aromatics. As an award winning artist Roxana brings her gifts of storytelling, conceptual thinking and a strong visual aesthetic to her work in perfume. The two disciples weave seamlessly into an authentic expression of olfactory art.
Photos ©Copyright Dora Goldsmith & Roxana Villa