Bringing the Ocean Home

“The Ancient Wrasse”, a detail from the frontispiece to The Aquarium (1856, 2nd edition) — Biodiversity Library Bernd Brunner on the English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse and how his 1854 book The Aquarium, complete with spectacular illustrations and a dizzy dose of religious zeal, sparked a craze for the “ocean garden” that gripped Victorian Britain. By Bernd Brunner /[…]

Sex and Science in Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora

“A Group of Carnations”, a plate from Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1807) — Internet Archive Bridal beds, blushing captives, and swollen trunks – Carl Linnaeus’ taxonomy of plants heralded a whole new era in 18th-century Europe of plants being spoken of in sexualised terms. Martin Kemp explores* how this association between the floral and erotic reached its[…]

Roman Era Map Shows Large Now-Sunken Island Off Black Sea Coast

Location of the sunken island of Cyanida / Kianida on Ptolemy’s 9th European Map (Nona Europae Tabula) published in the Reichenbach Monastery in 1467. The sizable island was likely located off the coast of the spot of today’s Black Sea border of Bulgaria and Turkey. Map: Wikipedia, National Library in Warsaw, Poland A sizable but now[…]

Giving and Taking in Indo-European Society

By Dr. Émile Benveniste (1902-1976) Former Professor of Linguistics Collège de France Gift and Exchange Abstract Greek has five words that are commonly translated uniformly by “gift.” A careful examination of their use shows that they do in fact correspond to as many different ways of envisaging a gift—from the purely verbal notion of “giving” to “a contractual[…]