Encyclopedia of Smell History and Heritage

The Encyclopedia of Smell History and Heritage is an online reference tool that brings together academic and creative expertise on smell as a cultural phenomenon. The Encyclopedia presents knowledge of the wide-ranging role scents and smelling have in our cultural heritage and history. The curated stories about smells, smellscapes, noses, olfactory feelings and practices can function as an entry point to discover the world of smells and its cultural representation. The entries also link to the Odeuropa Smell Explorer where you can further explore smell trails by engaging with nose witnesses of the past.

Where can I find the Encyclopedia?

The Encyclopedia can be found at https://encyclopedia.odeuropa.eu

What kind of knowledge does the Encyclopedia present?

The Encyclopedia seeks to identify, consolidate, and promote knowledge of the wide-ranging role scents and smelling have in our cultural heritage and history. The Entries and Storylines in the Encyclopedia draw on the databases of historical texts and images processed by the Odeuropa project. The smell descriptions that the project extracted from these sources can be viewed via the project’s Smell Explorer application. The focus of the Encyclopedia is therefore on European history between 1600-1920. However, smells have no national borders, and many of the scents that are considered as ‘European heritage scents’ come from other parts of the world, where they have been embedded in historical practices. The authors of the Encyclopedia therefore try to take a global perspective on the history of smell.

Draft design for Encyclopaedia

How is the knowledge ordered?

The Encyclopedia is composed of two principal types of resource:

  • Entries. These are wikipedia-like descriptions, written by experts from different domains. The text of each of these Entries is structured using key categories (Smells, Places, Practices, Feelings, and Noses) and includes text, images, and connected data that you can explore.
  • Storylines. These are ‘follow-your-nose’ stories that allow you to explore smell history through a series of interlocking themes. As you click your way through the stories you can cross into new themes and use the overview map to locate yourself within the smellscapes of the past.

Who is it for?

Both types of resource are intended to be reference points for students and teachers, academic researchers, museums and heritage professionals, fragrance and flavour experts, and anybody else who might be interested in finding out more about the smells of the past. But they are also intended as a spur to further research and as a tool for thinking about the hidden connections between people, places, and things that smell history can reveal.

Can I contribute?

Yes you can! The Encyclopedia promotes the free and open dissemination of knowledge about past smells and their role in the present. Rather than being a finished, closed, statement about smell history and heritage, it aims to act as a steppingstone that will support and promote further research in the area. If you are interested in contributing an entry or in offering feedback on the Encyclopedia, please see see this blogpost for further details.