Aryballos in the form of three cockle shells, 6th century BC (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
This week is an installation of Greek words contributed by the Greek perfumer Christina Koutsoudaki. Christina has been a professional perfumer for over 20 years, and originally trained as a chemist at the National University of Athens, Greece and in analytic chemistry at Warwick University, UK. She also supported Luca Turin on a paper in 2013 about the continued debate on whether scent is registered by humans as vibration, or the quantum mechanism of the molecules or both. Read here if you are curious about odorant isotopomers, deuterated musks, and spectral bands among many other science focused scent words.
Christina works for Greece’s only perfume house VIORYL S.A where besides creating perfumes for personal and home care products, candles and incense she is also conducting fragrance workshops for their clients. Learning about the different scent preferences throughout the world inspires her and helps her shape her creations.
She contributed many words to the Odorbet that range from technical terms for extraction methods to key areas of our physiology related to our capacity for scent. Thank you Christina! For this week, there are three special Greek words running the gamut from an ancient perfume carrier for athletes to a psychological disorder where pleasant smells permeate one’s sensory landscape. Enjoy:
An aryballos (Greek: ἀρύβαλλος; plural aryballoi) is a small spherical or globular flask with a narrow neck used in Ancient Greece. It contained perfume or oil, and is often depicted in vase paintings being used by athletes during bathing. In the paintings the aryballos is shown attached to an athletes wrist or hung one a peg on the wall.
“Participation in sports in Ancient Greece showed wisdom, athleticism and kindness. Perhaps due to the presence of the aryballos as an athlete’s accessory, it also showed cleanliness. The smell of the perfume oil for the athlete in the 6th century BC is a mystery: could they have believed the scent could affect their performance?”
Like a parosmia, which is a distorted sense of smell elicited by an odor, the euosmia is a distorted sense of smell where the patient reports pleasant parasmia. Parasmia is normally associated with an unpleasant distorted sense of smell.
“Often when patients have an olfactory disorder such as euosmia where pleasant smells permeate a patients olfactory perceptions, the condition is comorbid with another disease.”
A disorder when the sense of smell in which is perceived is not aligned with whatever is producing the scent.
“It was clear she would require further nose training and furher testing for heterosmia after she continually mistook the smell of oranges as bananas.”
Image of Christina Koutsoudaki, you may follow her on instagram @christinakoutsoudaki