How Ancient Cultures Explained Eclipses

A 1765 painting of Helios, the personification of the sun in Greek mythology. Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Roger Culver / 08.16.2017 Emeritus Professor of Physics Colorado State University On August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible across parts of the United States. As the Earth and moon sweep through space in their annual journey[…]

The Road to India’s Partition

People fleeing on bullock carts as mass migration happened during the partition. AP Photo By Dr. Halmanti Roy / 08.14.2017 Associate Professor of History University of Dayton As citizens of India and Pakistan celebrate 70 years of their independence in August, they will also remember 1947 as the momentous year of their simultaneous birth. That year,[…]

Today in History: Cleopatra Commits Suicide, 30 BCE

Cleopatra Before Caesar by Jean-Léon Gérôme, oil on canvas, 1866. Cleopatra confronts Gaius Julius Caesar after emerging from a roll of carpet. The Egyptian Queen had been driven from the palace in Alexandria by her brother/husband Ptolemy XIII. She had to disguise herself to regain entry and treat with Caesar for protection and restoration of her throne. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark /[…]

The Power of the Past in Grounding Us

Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Ur, 1900. / Courtesy Boston Public Library By Ben Thomas / 08.17.2017 In his essay The Machine-Tooled Happyland (1965), Ray Bradbury lays out his vision for the theme park of the future. Along with standard-issue attractions such as carousels and rollercoasters, tomorrow’s theme park must also contain an ‘audio-animatronic museum’, which features ‘Robot[…]

Jewish Sources in the Narrative of Abraham in the ‘General estoria’

San Fernando Valley Credit: Oakshade, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. David A. Wacks / 05.24.2017 Professor of Spanish Department of Romance Languages University of Oregon I wrote about the influence of Jewish exegesis in the development of fictionality, that is, those aspects of prose fiction that serve to enhance the as-if function of fiction and make possible the suspension of disbelief required[…]

Explaining ‘Rakshabandan’ – a Hindu Festival that Celebrates the Brother-Sister Bond

A sister tying the protective thread. Vikram Verma By Dr. Matthew Schmalz / 08.07.2017 Associate Professor of Religion College of the Holy Cross This year, Monday, August 7 marks one of the most important celebrations for Hindus throughout the world: Rakshabandhan, a ceremony honoring the bond between sisters and brothers. The date of Rakshabandan varies from year to[…]

Soundscapes in the Past: A New Dimension to Our Archaeological Picture of Ancient Cultures

What sounds did the people of Chaco Canyon hear during daily life? David E. Witt    By Kristy E. Primeau and David E. Witt / 08.02.2017 Primeau: PhD Candidate in Archaeology, University at Albany Witt: PhD Candidate in Archaeology, University at Buffalo The State University of New York Picture an archaeological site, what comes to mind?[…]

Festivals in Ancient Greece and Rome: 9 Fascinating Facts

“Ave, Caesar! Io, Saturnalia!” Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1880. / Wikimedia Commons By Cassandra Gill / 06.20.2017 Festivals in ancient Greece and Rome were important periods of time during which people performed “activities that are most often thought of as communications with the superhuman world.” Marked by a variety of unique cultural rituals and traditions, festival days stood in stark[…]

Predicting the Past: Digital Art History, Modeling, and Machine Learning

NOAA 5-day hurricane forecast model. Forecast tracks are shown in gray, observed tracks in black. / NASA Case study from the Getty’s digital art history team shows how modeling and machine learning are shedding light on the history of the art market. By Dr. Matthew Lincoln / 07.27.2017 Historian and Data Research Specialist Getty Research[…]

West African Ashanti Kente Cloth Art

Asante kente cloth, 20th century, silk and cotton (Vatican Museums) By Dr. Courtnay Micots / 07.17.2017 Assistant Professor of Art History Florida A&M University Inspired by a spider’s web Among the Asante (or Ashanti) people of Ghana, West Africa, a popular legend relates how two young men—Ota Karaban and his friend Kwaku Ameyaw—learned the art[…]

The Georgia Peach May be Vanishing, but Its Mythology is Alive and Well

Creative Commons By Dr. William Thomas Okie / 07.20.2017 Assistant Professor of History and History Education Kennesaw State University This is a tough year for the Georgia peach. In February, growers fretted about warm winter temperatures, which prevented some fruit from developing properly. They were more discouraged in March after a late freeze damaged many of the remaining[…]

Inventing the Recording

Coloured engraving after J.T. Balcomb depicting an Edison phonograph with a carbon microphone, 1878 / Wellcome Library Dr. Eva Moreda Rodríguez on the formative years of the recording industry, focusing on the culture surrounding the gabinetes fonográficos of fin-de-siècle Spain. By Dr. Eva Moreda Rodriguez / 07.12.2017 Lecturer in Music University of Glasgow To the question “When[…]

How Spam Became One of the Most Iconic Brands of All Time

By Dr. Ayalla A. Ruvio / 07.02.2017 Assistant Professor of Marketing Michigan State University While you might think of Spam as a basic canned meat, it’s actually one of the greatest business success stories of all time: Since Hormel Foods Corporation launched the affordable, canned pork product in 1937, it’s sold over eight billion cans in 44 countries around[…]

On Thoreau’s 200th Birthday, a Gift for Botany

Hundreds of new images from Thoreau’s collection of plant specimens will be available for viewing online. “I think it’s fair to say that the data that live inside these cabinets has been dark for far too long,” said Charles Davis (pictured), director of the Harvard University Herbaria. / Jon Chase, Harvard Staff Photographer By Alvin Powell[…]

Millennial Bashing in Medieval Times

In Sir Thomas Malory’s ‘Le Morte d’Arthur,’ a character complains that young people are too sexually promiscuous. The British Library By Dr. Eric Weiskott / 07.05.2017 Assistant Professor of English Boston College As a millennial and a teacher of millennials, I’m growing weary of think pieces blaming my generation for messing everything up. The list of[…]

Faces of the Mexican Revolution

By Beth Guynn / 09.09.2011 Senior Archival Cataloger Getty Research Institute When we think of the Mexican Revolution, many of us probably conjure up images of Pancho Villa or Emiliano Zapata, two of the most well-known figures from the ten-year civil war (1910-1920) that raged across Mexico during the early years of the twentieth century.[…]

The God of Israel: An Ancient People’s Growing Definition, Identification, and Understanding

Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall, Jerusalem / Photo by Peter Mulligan, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael W. Palmer / 12.09.2010 That Israel’s understanding of God changed over time is not a controversial claim. The biblical texts record significant changes very clearly. From Henotheism to Monotheism The twelve gods of the Greek Olympic pantheon with[…]