Scents of history: study hopes to recreate smells of old Europe

by David Solomonoff

Prof Matija Strlic smells a historical book in the National Archives of the Netherlands.

Researchers plan library of scents from plague repellents to early tobacco.

Scientists, historians and experts in artificial intelligence  announced they are teaming up for project labelled “Odeuropa” to identify and even recreate the aromas that would have assailed noses between the 16th and early 20th centuries.

First step in the three-year project, which is due to begin in January, will be to develop artificial intelligence to screen historical texts in seven languages for descriptions of odours – and their context – as well as to spot aromatic items within images, such as paintings.

Thenw ill work with chemists and perfumers to recreate smells of the past, and explore how the odours can be delivered – alongside insights into their significance – to enhance the experience of visitors to museums and other heritage sites.

Source: Scents of history: study hopes to recreate smells of old Europe | Science | The Guardian

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