Dan, Technology dates and the irreversible march of miniaturisation, poses as progress.
Yes, the smell of paint oils, solvents, thinners and dryers can date paints and even induce nostalgia. Once I became qualified as a chemist and engineer, I travelled internationally and I began to realise how I had first become aware of paint formulations, oil extracts and early plastics as I wandered round Bootle as a kid then later worked in local companies. It made me increasingly value the importance of the Docks, the Cut, the Tar distillery, the Gasworks and nearby factories in providing not only jobs but contributing to diverse products for an international market - in construction, foodstuffs, domestic products, entertainment and beyond.
I share your thoughts on future archaeologists trying to make sense of excavations around Bootle docklands and Bootle Village. Perhaps they might think that Victorian robustness and practicality in housing, offices and industrial units were replaced by a fashion for scaling up Lego and Bayko sets, while discarding Meccano ones? Production and manufacture gave way to 'service industries' which gave way to 'IT'- which left no trace.
The ultimate products of IT will be lost forever, even to library archives, as storage media continuously change and reading devices become 'updated' - My data from over 40 years is on magnetic tape (1/4 to 2 inch), punched cards, floppy discs (3.5, 5.25 and even 11 inch), cassettes, chips, USBs, hard drives (rotating and solid state), photographs, microfiche, microfilm and even pen on paper but few devices survive for reading these media. Then there is electronics. I learned how to use thermionic valves at school, building fuzz boxes and wah pedals in the Merseybeat era - then in came transistors, chips, printed integrated circuits, 3D circuit + component (lab-on-chip) printing and beyond.
Just as I had learned how to fix early, analogue, multiple tape-loop Mellotrons (which needed several men to load into a van and preferably a full-time technician to complete a gig) as a late teenager in 1970+, they were eclipsed by digital, multitrack, push button keyboard synths (some being carried under your arm on the train). Now a hand held phone can suffice. Body implants for digital computer music are underway. What will future forensics make of bioelectronics integrated into people? 'The moving finger writes and a hard rock symphony emerges...' Walshy.