The Smells of Europe, Centuries Ago
History is written, read and told -- but rarely is it smelled.
Historians and scientists across Europe have now gotten together with perfumers and museums for a unique project: to capture what Europe smelled like between the 16th and early 20th centuries. To do this, they will first build artificial intelligence that will be trained to scan historical texts, written in seven different languages, for any descriptions of odors, according to The Guardian. The A.I. will also be trained to detect images of objects in the texts that might be aromatic. T
he team will then use this information to create an online encyclopedia of smells from Europe's past."For me, tobacco is really a central smell in European history and heritage," William Tullett, a lecturer in history at the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and part of the Odeuropa team, said in a video introducing Odeuropa. "It's a hot, smokey, pungent smell but of course, it's not one smell at all because perfumers and tobacconists and grocers have experimented with scenting tobacco in all kinds of ways."