By his incarnation, Christ had made it possible to touch God through objects sanctified by his contact. He could be experienced through different material objects such as the consecrated bread and wine, or relics such as the wood of the Cross. The faithful were called to "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). We find numerous sensory references in the sources, but is this literary resource enough to write a history of the ancient senses and their evolution? How can we reconstruct the soundscape of a Byzantine city, its smellscape, or the tastes of a past culture?
Béatrice Chevallier Caseau is professor of Byzantine history at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. She is the director of the research cluster LABEX RESMED (Religions and society in the Mediterranean world). Her research interests concentrate on Late Antique and Byzantine Christianity. She has written on the history of incense, the cultural history of the senses, especially on smell, taste and touch, on the history of Christian liturgies, and particularly on eucharistic practices, on religious violence and destruction of statuary, and on the history of childhood and family networks. Her most recent book is on Byzantine food culture (2015). She prepares a book of collected essays on the senses in religious cultures of Antiquity and the Middle ages, and another one on food taboos in Antiquity and the Middle ages.