The smell of history

Smells hover just below our conscious awareness, conjuring up emotions and memories that shape how we perceive and navigate the world. An unexpected whiff of a long-forgotten snack or a dusty book can transport a person to years past — enabling a kind of time travel that makes hazy memories more vivid.

It’s puzzling then that smell is a sense that, according to scientists, has been largely — and unfairly — ignored in most attempts to understand the past. A growing number of researchers now want to reconstruct ancient aromas and use them to learn more about how we used to live….