Would you like to know what sixteenth century smelt like? team of researchers is trying to find out. Scientists, historians and experts in smells have embarked on $3.3 million project to identify and even recreate aromas that filled air between the 16th and early 20th centuries. project is called "Odeuropa: Negotiating Olfactory and Sensory Experiences in Cultural Heritage Practice and Research". The goal is to develop online encyclopaedia of smells, including biographies of distinct odours that are specific to past times. website will reveal insights into emotions aroused by smells in bygone centuries and the places associated with certain scents.
project website says: "Smells shape our experience of world, yet we have very little sensory information about past." It lists series of questions it hopes researchers will answer. These are: "What are key scents...that have shaped our cultures? How can we extract sensory data from large-scale digital text and image collections? How can we represent smell in all its facets in database? How should we safeguard our olfactory heritage? And - Why should we?" Team leader Dr William Tullett wants people to be aware of array of smells, pleasant and unpleasant. He said: "We are trying to encourage people to consider both foul and fragrant elements of Europe’s olfactory past."