From The National Post:
Thanks to innovative technology, researchers have gathered libraries of ancient tomes, museums of bygone artefacts, classical music treatises, and, in modern times, records of old photos and films that offer windows into the past.
But can we have a library of old smells?
That’s the question scientists, historians and experts in artificial intelligence across the U.K. and Europe will attempt to answer, as part a $4.9 million project to identify and catalogue the different aromas smelled by Europeans between the 16th and early 20th centuries.
The project, named “Odeuropa,” will begin in January, and will see researchers develop artificial intelligence to scour through historical texts in seven languages, looking for descriptions of odours and the context that comes with them.
The project bundles an array of academic expertise from across many disciplines—history, art history, computational linguistics, computer vision, semantic web, museology, heritage science, and chemistry, with further expertise from cultural heritage institutes, intangible heritage organisations, policy makers, and the creative and fragrance industries. The team will develop novel methods in sensory mining and olfactory heritage science to collect information about smell from multinational digital text and image collections. The historical scent data will be curated and published in an online Encyclopaedia of Smell Heritage, describing the sensory qualities and meanings of the scents and tracing the storylines of key scents, fragrant places, and olfactory practices. This database will become an archive for the olfactory heritage of Europe, enabling future generations to access and learn about the scented past.
Odeuropa’s main collaborating partners: International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF); Olfasense, Mediamatic Amsterdam; Museum Ulm; National and University Library of Slovenia (NULS); Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (DICH); The Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History; the Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO (SNCU); The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM); and the NOSE Network.
Direct to Odeuropa Website