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Scientists launch £2.5 million project to recreate ‘smells of the past’

The smell of old books will be one of many odours researchers will study and try to recreate as part of the project

History books record many things about the past, but they struggle to truly encapsulate its scent.

However, anecdotal evidence provides clues about how places, items and people smelled, and a team of academics are hoping to bring them back to life.

The project, called Odeuropa, will use artificial intelligence to recreate aromas that were inhaled by the world’s inhabitants between 500 and 100 years ago. 

It will include the use of herbs to protect against diseases such as the plague, as well as industrial scents and the harsh tones of tobacco.  

Experts from various institutions, including UCL, Anglia Ruskin University and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, have received a €2.8 million (£1.5 million) grant from the the EU Horizon 2020 programme for the project. 

The smell of old books will be one of many odours researchers will study and try to…

Scientists launch £2.5 million project to recreate ‘smells of the past’

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