Call for Encyclopaedia of Smell History and Heritage ‘Entries’

The sense of smell: a man lying in bed smells flowers as another lights some incense, above, a priest stands before a burning sacrifice of a lamb. Engraving after G. Collaert, 1630, after N. van der Horst. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark.

One of the exciting outputs of the Odeuropa project will be a free, publicly-available, Encyclopaedia of Smell History and Heritage. This will be composed of 120 ‘Entries’ written by smell-history, -culture, and -heritage experts and a series of 24 ‘Storylines’ that explore the links between smells and key themes over time. 

In the first two years of the project, we have developed fantastic tools for identifying and collecting references to smell events in historical texts and images from the 1600s to the 1920s. We have gathered an extensive range of data available through our dedicated Smell Explorer (some 218903 text extracts and 4690 images, with more being added!). 

It has now got to the point where we are beginning to write Entries and Storylines for the Encyclopaedia using this wide-ranging, multi-lingual, material. This is where we want to offer an opportunity to smell researchers interested in Europe’s smell history to get involved. There is a world of expertise on smell and its pasts out there (as testified to by our own PastScent group and the Odeuropa network). We want to draw on that expertise.

We are therefore asking for expressions of interest in writing an Entry for the Encyclopaedia.  We are particularly looking for entries on smells (e.g gunpowder; civet; smog), smellscapes/places (e.g coffee-houses; gas-works; ships), emotional responses to smells (e.g disgust, fear, nostalgia) and noses/olfactory expertise (e.g apothecaries; sanitarians; artists). Each entry can be between 2,000-5,000 words long and will also incorporate multiple images. 

We have an existing list of potential entries but are also open to ideas for entries based on researchers’ expertise and what they can find in our data. The only stipulation is that the entries should look at the period between 1600 to 1925 (or a period within it), that they should focus on Europe (or a place within it, including its global connections), and that they should draw (though not exclusively) on the data in the Odeuropa Smell Explorer.

All entries will be reviewed by two other researchers and the projected timeline from commissioning an entry to the final draft is expected to be 2-3 months. The Encyclopaedia will be published online in late 2023 near the end of the Odeuropa project. If you are interested in writing for the Encyclopaedia then please email, who can share a sample entry, an entry-writing form, and a list of suggested entries. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email him!

Improve your olfactory language – Hackathon

Image source:

Join us on 7 & 8 November 2022 at the National and University Library of Slovenia in Ljubljana for a nose-dive into the history and heritage of smell and the Odeuropa tools and data!

For whom? 
The event is directed at cultural heritage professionals, digital heritage collection specialists, computer science scholars, historians, (computational) linguists.

Why participate?
The hackathon will offer an intensive, two-day, nose-on and hands-on meeting, to try out cutting edge research and development in sensory data-mining, and discuss the opportunities of olfactory approaches to cultural collections and archives. Also, the rich olfactory lexicons of the past may offer new opportunities for research and exploitation. The nose-on setup of the workshop, which includes sniffing sessions and a smell walk through the library, will offer participants a chance to learn by sensing. Furthermore, we offer a reception in the library, where you can make valuable new connections with an international network of colleagues.

What can you expect?
In the morning of 7 November, we will start with a general introduction to the topic of the history, heritage and smell language, accompanied by sniffing sessions. Researchers of the Odeuropa project will highlight the opportunities of working with smells in heritage institutes, and what we can learn from the rich smell language of the past. Furthermore, the models and demonstrators of the Odeuropa project will be presented. This workshop part of the hackathon is also open for the general public.

In the afternoon of 7 November and on 8 November the participants will work in small groups to test and evaluate the Odeuropa prototype tools on concrete tasks, such as:

  • Search and find the occurrence of odors in historical texts using the Odeuropa Explorer & Smell Tracker
  • Analyse the descriptions of olfactory events in different languages and domains
  • Try out automatic annotation of documents via Odeuropa Wikifier API
  • Study relatedness between Smell event, Smell Locations and Smell Appraisals / Emotions
  • Compare smell vocabularies in different languages
  • Trace odors in literary texts and explore the opportunities to ‘represent’ these scents to collection visitors

Furthermore, the participants are invited to bring their own datasets, or request specific tasks.

Smell walk:
The event also includes a smell walk (a walk where you are led by your nose) in and around the library: to train your nose, help to explore the concept of fragrant spaces, and discover the importance of the smell of heritage spaces.

Nose-Dive into the History and Heritage of Smell!

Participation is free, however, participants are expected to bring their own laptops, and cover their own travel expenses.

Apply until 25.10.2022:

Contact email: