In Terenci Moix
‘s beloved Egypt , the pharaoh was embalmed with sweet-smelling ointments. It must have a pleasant smell to be received in the afterlife. Taputti, the first known chemist in human history, gave fragrances of roses, balsam, calamus, cypress and myrrh to the king of Babylon. For their part, the Aztecs burned a resin called copal to make their gods happy.
However, as Federico Kukso’s book proves, much less going to the past means entering a fragrant world. Herodotus cites in his Histories the aromas “as sweet as divine” that were perceived in the scorching confines of the Arabian peninsula. But in Magna Graecia, including the era of Pericles,It was common for the temples and all their statuary to coexist with the stench that enveloped the cities. Athenians, Spartans, Thebans and Macedonians were not in the habit of covering their noses.
Olfactory education would take place many centuries later. The Industrial Revolution turned the cities of the XIX century into smelly beehives. The carboniferous smoke of the factories and the smell of humanityIt penetrated into unhealthy dwellings that grew over filled neighborhoods. Hence the classic picture of the London fog together with the dark vapors of the Thames. The late nineteenth century itself would put an end to the stench of the cities by imposing scientific hygienism. The need for cleaning reordered the architecture and altered urban planning. The great cities were redesigned from immense squares crossed by avenues and boulevards. Haussmann ‘s Paris is a consequence of hygienism.
Even so, well into the 20th century, the streets still stank of manure from carriage droppings. The arrival of the automobile brought with it not only a revolution in the forms of displacement. It also meant a change in the daily smell of cities. The effluvium of excrement gave way to smells of carburation, which were believed at the time to be much healthier.
Kukso affirms in his book that the past has been “deodorized” by shame
. Modern uses will respond to a gradual and educational process towards new odorizations. That is why Federico Kukso affirms that the past has been “deodorized” by shame. Western culture, as Alain Corbain atina, is based on a vast project to cleanse the nose. Odors are silenced and with each odor silenced a period of history is also silenced. Today, when we talk about smells, it seems unconsciously that we refer to the bad smell and its various effluvia (stink, stench, stench, stench). If we define a person by their smell, we immediately associate them with the unpleasant vaporin that accompanies them. We don’t know if his repellent smell is due to a poor combustion of sweat glands or because he washes his clothes little or not at all.
“He who controlled odors, controlled the hearts of men” (Perfume, Patrick Suskind). But the smell, as has been said, also refers to the heart of history and its various periods. According to Kukso, the evocation of every person refers to what their smell emanated in times. How did Napoleon
smell

The little cheeses that, like Trivial, crack life itself make us smell different depending on whether we are babies, adolescents, adults without return or old people wrapped in yellow smells of illness. The patterns of smell have long changed. They were refined to extremes that today, through publicity, have led to white and expensive fragrances lacking lexicon and memory. “Forgotten the alphabet of smell that elaborated so many words of precious lexicon, the perfumes will remain wordless, inarticulate, illegible” ( Italo Calvino, The man, the nose).
Returning the nose to ancient odours, Federico Kukso reminds us that long ago women smelled through the vagina and the uterus. That is why doctors like Hippocrates prescribed scented compresses in Ancient Greece to guarantee fertility and offspring. From the dense odor of cattle that emanated from the slaughterhouses of the cities and the passage of rural animals through its streets, it would pass to the smell of beef, but human beef, like the one given off by the Nazi crematorium ovens ( Max Hostings recalls it in his book on the macabre end of Nazism).
Kukso emphasizes that what moves and wakes up every nose is an obvious consequence of the mechanics of the brain. Proust ‘s Madeleineit is above all a scent that distills memory and accord. Before and after Proust existed, the neurobiologist Leslie Vosshell has shown that people can identify more than a trillion odors.
The last part of the book is dedicated to the smells of tomorrow, which are already those of today. What does technology smell
like
We might wonder what dinosaurs smelled like or why we associate hell with a sulfurous, stinking place . Very good, but what will the smell of the future be like

This wonderful book and “cabinet of curiosities” gives us clues.

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