Religious Change and the Ottoman Empire, 1450-1750

How did the Ottomans shape the political and religious history of early modern Europe? Introduction The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and longest-lasting empires in world history, stretching across the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Northern Africa at its zenith in the sixteenth century. Many European observers of the time experienced and depicted[…]

Religious Wars in Early Modern Europe

The splintering of the medieval church ushered in a volatile new era of increased anxiety, tension, and religious fervor during. Introduction For nearly 150 years, the battle for “true” Christianity tore early modern Europe apart. The spiritual divisions created by the Protestant Reformation led to a series of international and domestic conflicts that caused incalculable destruction and[…]

Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

Although magic and witchcraft had existed since antiquity, early modern Europe underwent a growth in anxiety about witches and their practices. Introduction Historians have named the era in Europe that lasted from about 1500 to 1650 the age of the “Witch Hunts.” During this period approximately 100,000 people went on trial for the crime of[…]

The Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Democratization of Magic in Post-Reformation England

How monks, friars and monastic sites became associated with magic in popular tradition, resulting in a lasting stereotype of medieval monks and friars as the masters of occult knowledge. Abstract The dissolution of the monasteries in England (1536–1540) forced hundreds of former inmates of religious houses to seek livelihoods outside the cloister to supplement meagre[…]

“Such Fictitious Evil Spirits”: Adriaan Koerbagh’s Rejection of Biblical Demons and Demonic Possession, 1668

The devil, once a part of the sacred truth, could now be seen as a fragment of a human cultural heritage. Introduction This paper traces Adriaan Koerbagh’s interpretation of biblical devils and scriptural instances of demonic possession in his 1668 Een Ligt Schijnende in Duystere Plaatsen (A light shining in dark places). Koerbagh’s book is a radical[…]

These Early Modern Gravity-Defying Sculptures Provoked Accusations of Demonic Possession

Demons and artists, it seems, pull from the same bag of tricks. They take ordinary matter and transform it into something more wondrous, more terrifying. Around 1737, the Italian sculptor Francesco Bertos was hauled before the Inquisition. The charge: He had colluded with the Devil to produce his latest set of gravity-defying marble statues. According to[…]

Berenice II Euergetis: Ancient Alexandrian Queen from Libya

Although Ptolemy III and Berenice II were cousins, they proclaimed themselves siblings as children of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II. Introduction Berenice (c. 267-221 BCE), the daughter of the Macedonian dynast Magas and his Seleucid wife Apame, was born in Cyrene, a Greek city in Libya. Ptolemy I had installed Magas, a son of his fourth wife Berenice I by a previous marriage,[…]

Tasty Ancient Recipes from Mesopotamia

The origins of Iraqi cuisine and continued popularity. Mesopotamia (from the Greek, meaning “between two rivers”) was an ancient region in the Near East, which corresponds roughly to present-day Iraq. Widely regarded as the “cradle of civilization,” Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilizations rather than any[…]

The Hurrians of Bronze Age Mesopotamia

By the late Bronze Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated into surrounding cultures in the Near East. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Hurrians (aka Hurri or Khurri) were a Bronze Age people who flourished across the Near East from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium BCE. Hurrian is also the name of the[…]

Ancient Mesopotamia: Inventing and Reinventing Our World

Discussing the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and understand their legacy in modern times. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Clemens Reichel, Associate Curator at the ROM, about the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and[…]

How ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Seized on an Urbanizing America’s Nostalgia for the Small Town

As mid-century Americans moved to cities, Cara’s film helped to idealize isolated white communities. It’s a Wonderful Life can be read through multiple prisms—as a Christmas movie, a family movie, a love story, an existential journey, and a celebration of the everyman. But Frank Capra’s movie invites audiences to consider it, first and foremost, as a[…]

Frank Capra’s Formula for Taming American Capitalism

It’s a Wonderful Life prescribed community and empathy as the remedy to a callous economic system. From the Gilded Age and until well into the Great Depression, Americans engaged in one of the most consequential debates in the country’s history: how best to address the economic inequities and societal problems stemming from industrialization, and relatedly,[…]

The Jungle and the Community: Workers and Reformers in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

How does Upton Sinclair’s representation of this community in The Jungle compare to the accounts of sociologists and reformers? Introduction In November and December of 1904, the New York writer Upton Sinclair spent seven weeks in Chicago’s meatpacking district—the Union Stock Yard and the surrounding neighborhood, known as Packingtown or Back of the Yards. Sinclair[…]

Chicago Workers during the Long Gilded Age

What were working conditions like in Chicago during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? What efforts did workers make to change these conditions? Introduction The United States experienced extraordinary social and economic change between the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of World War I. In 1870, only one-quarter of Americans lived in cities.[…]

Colonial American Fast Food

Let’s adventure back to Colonial America—a time of exploration, revolution, taverns and….fast food? Yes, that’s right, fast food! We may think of the desire for fast food as being a 20th century phenomenon, but our colonial ancestors had the same desire for quick, convenient, and affordable fare that we do today. During the 18th century, colonial cooks,[…]

Did the End of the Civil War Mean the End of Slavery?

April 1865 marked the beginning of a new battle for American abolitionists. On the same morning that Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet, noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was quietly gloating by the Charleston, South Carolina graveside of John C. Calhoun. Garrison, approaching his 60th birthday, had traveled down to secession’s birthplace with a[…]

A History of Separation: Korea and the Thirty-Eighth Parallel

The latitude line passing between the North and the South has separated generations of families. The Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, saw some of the most intense battles in American military history. A total of 33,700 soldiers, sailors, marines, and Air Force personnel were killed in Korea; more than 100,000 were wounded. The fighting[…]

Design Principles of Early Stone Pagodas in Ancient Korean Architecture

The ancients constructed the pagodas complying with design principles based on the arithmetic and geometric proportional systems. By Dr. Juhwan Cha, Professor of Architecture, Tsinghua UniversityBy Dr. Young Jae Kim, Professor of Architecture, Korea National University of Cultural Heritage Abstract Ancient books on East Asian mathematics introduced to the Korean Peninsula enrich our understanding of[…]

Ancient Cilicia in Anatolia, from the Hittites to Armenia

Because of its geography and location, Cilicia was among the most important regions of the classical world. Introduction Cilicia is the ancient Roman name for the southeastern region of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It is referenced in the biblical books of Acts and Galatians, was the birthplace of Saint Paul, and the site of his early evangelical missions. The territory was first[…]

Conflict and Celts: The Creation of Ancient Galatia

Galatia was situated in eastern Phrygia, a region now within modern-day Turkey. By Jeffrey KingHistorian Introduction Galatia was the most long-lasting and powerful Celtic settlement outside of Europe. It was the only kingdom of note to be forged during the Celtic invasions of the Mediterranean in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. From its foundation,[…]

Five Moon-Landing Innovations That Changed Life on Earth

The technologies behind weather forecasting, GPS and even smartphones can trace their origins to the race to the Moon. Much of the technology common in daily life today originates from the drive to put a human being on the Moon. This effort reached its pinnacle when Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle landing module onto[…]

Long before Armstrong and Aldrin, Artists Were Stoking Dreams of Space Travel

While the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing is an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable technological achievement, it’s worth reflecting upon the creative vision that made it possible. In the midst of the space race, Hereward Lester Cooke, the former co-director of the NASA Art Program, observed, “Space travel started in the imagination of the[…]

When Americans Understood That Weather Was Connected to Larger Forces

Two hundred years after New England’s first great hurricane, we ask very different questions about the nature of storms. Two hundred years ago this week, the Great September Gale struck New England. The “gale” swamped the coastlines of five states with storm surges up to 15 feet. It reduced dozens of ships in Boston, Providence,[…]

What a Deer Tooth Necklace Says about Our Ice Age Ancestors

About 19,000 years ago in southwestern France at a site called Saint-Germain-La-Rivière, an adult woman dies and is prepared for burial by members of her society. Ice Age Europe, approximately 20,000-13,500 years ago; a period known as the Magdalenian. The climate is gradually ameliorating after glaciers and cold temperatures reached their height in the Last[…]

Anti-Spanish Bias and American Expansionism in the 19th Century

Poet-politician Joel Barlow personified an ideology borne of religious antipathy and economic rivalry. No sooner had the U.S. Revolution ended than U.S. expansionists began looking south and southwest toward lands controlled by Spain. The personification of this complicated project was the American poet-politician Joel Barlow. As a poet, he worked on creating public sentiment to[…]