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CULTURE

The Berners Street Hoax, History's Most Audacious Prank

January 7, 2020

In 1810, in Westminster, London a respectable house on the well-to-do Berners Street became ground zero for one of the most disruptive hoaxes in history. This p...

Gingerbread Houses And The Men Who Live In Them?

January 6, 2020

While it’s not uncommon to hear parents telling their children not to play with their food, there are certain traditions in which playing with food is encouraged. Fro...

The Rise Of Shaka And The Zulu Empire

January 5, 2020

In the southeast corner of Africa, the warrior-king Shaka Zulu built a powerful empire in the 19th century, but his descent into despotism and madness was his ultimate undoing. ...

Historical Imaginary Heroes That Children Believe In

January 4, 2020

08 December 2019, Thuringia, Erfurt: A reindeer figure with Santa Claus is standing at the entrance of the shopping centre Anger 1. On 08.12.2019 many shops were o...

Some of History's Most Notorious Hoaxes

January 3, 2020

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “History is a set of lies that people have agreed upon." While professional historians may take umbrage at L’empereur’s statement, history is litt...

Graffiti Was Here

January 1, 2020

The debate over graffiti has been ongoing for decades. Is it art? Is it vandalism? Should it be covered under freedom of expression? While these questions may never be answered, one thing is clea...

The Power And Mystery Of The Runes

December 31, 2019

J.R.R. Tolkien readers are familiar with runes, the mysteriously shaped letters that exert mystical power on things like secret maps or hidden doors. But Tolkien’s runes were based...

Why Do We Watch A Ball Drop On New Year’s Eve?

December 30, 2019

Every year on December 31, thousands of people gather in Times Square to ring in the new year. This televised New Year’s Eve celebration, which is watched by millions...

New Year’s Resolutions, A History Of Broken Promises

December 29, 2019

While breaking promises is generally considered a bad thing, there is one time of year when millions of people make promises - to themselves, their family, God, ...

The First Tsar: Ivan The Terrible

December 28, 2019

In terms of historic notoriety, few have the equal of Ivan IV, also called Ivan Groznyi, meaning Ivan the Terrible. Ivan was the first of the Tsars of Russia who set an autocratic p...

Capoeira: The Dance Of Death

December 27, 2019

Source: (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images) Two capoeiristas square off in a circle called a roda. Music is played on percussion instruments and songs are sung. The two move fluidly, b...

From Wassailing To Christmas Caroling

December 25, 2019

Every year, TV channels like Hallmark and Lifetime play countless Christmas movies set in Small Town, USA. And, at some point in most of these movies, the main characters will b...

The Origin of Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer

December 24, 2019

Most Christmas traditions, such as the nativity story, the Christmas tree, gift exchanges, even Santa and his elves, have roots in ancient history. The same cannot be sa...

The Story Of The Lost City Of Pompeii

December 21, 2019

In the south of Italy near the Bay of Naples there stood a city that went extinct but at that moment became immortal to history. The Roman city of Pompeii is a wonder of archaeo...

How The U.S. Government Poisoned Hooch During Prohibiti...

December 20, 2019

Most of the time, conspiracy theories are simply fantastical hoaxes. However, every once in a while, one proves to be true. Believe it or not, the U.S. gov...

Making Music With Mozart

December 19, 2019

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the greatest classical composers in history. His career was considered the height of the classic Viennese school. So capable was Mozart that he composed in a...

Discovery of Brazil

December 18, 2019

Brazil is quite an interesting country with qualities that have benefited the world and its tourists.A fleet of on its way to India landed in Porto Seguro in 1500, led by Pedro Alvares Cabral who ...

Washington Irving, America’s First Professional Writer

December 16, 2019

Best known for his short stories, “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving has gone down in history as the first professional writ...

Who Shall Be Shōgun?

December 15, 2019

Japan since its earliest recorded histories had been ruled by an emperor. However, starting in the late 12th century their powers were stripped with true ruling authority falling into the hands...

Discoveries Of The Mayan Civilization

December 14, 2019

The Mayans were highly skilled in many areas including math, engineering, architecture, astronomy, and writing. While many discoveries have been made regarding their civilization...

Of Gods And Blood: Aztec Religion And Human Sacrifice

December 12, 2019

An Aztec Temple. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) The Aztec Empire was one of the most sophisticated civilizations in world history. They were magni...

The Sámi Of The North

December 11, 2019

The Sámi people of the shores of the Arctic Ocean are best known to the outside world for their practice of reindeer herding. The Sámi are still mostly known to outsiders as the Lapps or Lapla...

Did Mavis Beacon Really Teach Typing?

December 10, 2019

With the rise of personal computers in the final quarter of the twentieth century also arose the need for many people with limited familiarity with the QWERTY keyboard to learn h...

The Mad King And His Fairy Tale Castle: Neuschwanstein

December 9, 2019

Neuschwanstein Castle. Source: (Photo by DEA / M.SANTINI/De Agostini via Getty Images) In the south of Bavaria near the foothills of the Alps sits a castle that m...

Why Was Suleiman So Magnificent?

December 7, 2019

Of epithets applied to rulers “the Great” is usually the one given to exceptional monarchs. Yet there is one epithet which lends a more glamorous, fanciful air -- “the Magnificent.” ...

Who Is John Doe?

December 5, 2019

Anyone who has ever used terms like “thingamabob” or “whatchamacallit” because they couldn’t remember what something was called will understand the need for placeholder names. Similarly, “whatshisna...

By Hammer And Hand All Arts Do Stand: The Medieval Guil...

December 4, 2019

A smith at work. Source: (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images) Labor and trade during the European Middle Ages were regulated by guilds. This system of labor wa...

The Real Story Of Paul Revere’s Ride

December 2, 2019

Everyone knows the story of Paul Revere’s ride. In order to warn the colonists of Massachusetts that the British army was about to attack, Paul Revere rode his horse through th...

Who Was Edward Stratemeyer?

December 1, 2019

Most people are familiar with the fictional characters of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. However, the name Edward Stratemeyer is less likely to ring a bell. So they would probably be sur...

Legends of Monsters – Facts Or Fiction

November 28, 2019

Many types of monsters have been the subject of legends down through the years. Loch Ness is the location where the Legend of the Loch Ness Monster originated from. It is th...

Behold The Book Of Kells

November 27, 2019

From the Book of Kells. Source: (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) One of history's greatest pieces of art and the finest example of the medieval illuminated manuscript is Ireland’s famous Book of ...

Operation Anthropoid: The Assassination Of The Final So...

November 26, 2019

Arguably, Reinhard Heydrich was the vilest of Adolph Hitler’s henchmen. Not only did he organize the phony attack on a German radio station that led to the ...

Meet Mansa Musa, The Richest Person In History

November 25, 2019

In the 14th century, there arose a king in Mali whose wealth was so legendary, that tales of his fabulous kingdom have passed down through the ages. The King’s name was ...

Jim Corbett And The Champawat Tiger

November 21, 2019

Tigers and their status as an endangered species have made them, rightly, the poster child for preservation. They are gorgeous animals who have had an enduring mark on history thr...

The Scourge Of Scurvy

November 20, 2019

Scurvy was a scourge of sailors from the 16th to 18th centuries. This disease killed more mariners than battle, sinkings, or any other sickness. Centuries were spent trying to find a cure, whic...

Cycling – A Mode Of Transportation Or More

November 19, 2019

Some form of bicycles has been around since the 1800s when they were invented. Besides recreational riding for pleasure, others have taken it a step further. Bicycle rid...

The Dark Ages – Just How Dark Was It?

November 18, 2019

Crowds fill the gigantic Roman Forum in a scene from the film The Fall Of The Roman Empire, 1964. Source: (Paramount/Getty Images-138573964) What has been referred to as “The Da...

Justice Joseph Crater: The Missingest Man in New York

November 17, 2019

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the mysterious disappearances of Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart; however, before either of them disappeared, there...

The Origins Of La Llorona: The Weeping Woman

November 16, 2019

A dark-haired woman in a long white gown haunts rivers and lakes, searching for her drowned children. No one, especially children, dare go near her for fear she will drag...

If Walls Could Speak

November 11, 2019

Walls have been built and used throughout history for various reasons. Usually, walls are built to either keep people in or keep people out or a combination of both. Sometimes it is just a form...

Leonardo Da Vinci's Incredible Inventions

November 10, 2019

Multi-barrelled gun, sketch by Leonardo da Vinci. Source: (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), is the penultimate “Renaissance Man.” Known best for his ...

Forecasting the Future With the Oracle Of Delphi

November 9, 2019

Consulting the Delphic Oracle. Source: (Universal History Archive/Getty Images) The most important religious site in Ancient Greece was the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. ...

The Legend Of Bloody Mary

November 7, 2019

From urban legend to horror movie trope, the Legend of Bloody Mary has been terrifying teenagers for years. But is any of it real? With most legends, there is at least some element of trut...

Love After Death: The Story Of Carl Tanzler And Maria E...

November 6, 2019

Traditional wedding vows usually contain phrases such as “until death do us part” or “as long as we both shall live,” but for a deranged doctor named Carl Ta...

How Designs Have Changed Throughout History

November 5, 2019

Ever thought about becoming an interior designer? Looking back in time, some of the designs that we consider to be antique designs are still used today to purposely create ...

The Mysterious Moving Chase Coffins

November 1, 2019

Moving coffins? Is that really possible? Fact or Fiction?There are some very wild tales that float around. People love to tell ghost stories, especially during the Halloween sea...

The Mystery Of The Gurdon Ghost Light

October 31, 2019

About the only thing people can agree on regarding the Gurdon Ghost Light is that it actually exists. Not only has it been seen and photographed by numerous tourists, but it als...

The Hotel Monteleone Of The New Orleans French Quarter

October 30, 2019

Often hailed as the most haunted city in the United States, New Orleans is home to a number of locations reputed to house the undead. Among those locations is t...

The Way Of Ancient Sparta

October 28, 2019

Greek hoplite reenactment. Source: (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images) When most people think of the historic Spartans, they think of Frank Miller’s 300 in which bare-chested Spartans hold off...

Rolls And Royce

October 27, 2019

Charles Rolls, c1905. Source: (National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images) Rolls set up a business selling French and Belgian cars before going into partnership with Henry Royce, forming the mo...

His Name Was Popov, Dusko Popov

October 26, 2019

James Bond, the protagonist and titular character of Ian Fleming’s popular spy series, is possibly the most well-known fictional spy in existence. However, a closer look at a former a...

Coffee Break – The History Of Caffeine

October 23, 2019

Coffee is something some people depend on these days to help them start their day while others simply enjoy sitting down with a good cup of “Joe.” Where did coffee actually c...

Who Were The Samurai?

October 22, 2019

Source: (The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images) The samurai of premodern Japan is one of history’s most famous warrior castes. Their strict adherence to a martial code, their renowned...

David Douglas, The Overzealous Botanist

October 21, 2019

Douglas Fir in Quinault Forest Olympic National Park Washington USA. Source: (Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) Botany, the study of plants, may seem like a dull s...

Why Medieval Serfs Had More Vacation Time Than You Do T...

October 20, 2019

Modern technology and social changes have, generally speaking, made the world a better place. Medical advances such as antibiotics, inoculation, preventative...

The Lake Poets And The Romantic Era

October 18, 2019

Three poets had something in common who met and joined up together. Because of their comradery and combined works, they were called the Lake Poets. William WordsworthBorn in 1770,...

Friends, Romans, Countrymen: The Relationships Of Mark ...

October 17, 2019

Fans of Shakespeare may remember the character of Mark Antony from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. He’s the one whose loaded speech incites the crowd to turn ...

The Ups And Downs Of Gambling

October 16, 2019

It would be a safe bet to say that gambling is one of mankind’s oldest pastimes. Evidence has been found which suggests that games of chance were played dating back as far as the caveme...

The Progression Of The Early Slavs

October 14, 2019

Trade in an Early East Slavic State, 19th century. Private Collection. Artist : Anonymous. Source: (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images#599906863) The Slavic people...

Myths And Misconceptions About Flat Earth Theory

October 12, 2019

Today, the term “Flat Earther” has become synonymous with “idiot.” That is to say, it is frequently used to describe anyone who harbors beliefs that go against those ...

Was Lewis Carroll A Pedophile?

October 9, 2019

English mathematician, writer and photographer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898) with Mrs George Macdonald and four children relaxing in a garden. Sourc...

History Of The Eagle - An American Symbol

October 8, 2019

The Bald Eagle became a national seal for the United States just a few years (1782) after the Declaration of Independence in 1776. But why a bald eagle?Like the Roman Empire...

What Are Totem Poles?

October 6, 2019

Source: (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images) Everybody thinks they know what a totem pole is, but in actuality, few fully understand its origin, symbolism, social importance, ...

The People of the Longhouse: The Iroquois League

October 4, 2019

In the northeast of what was to be the United States an American Indian people united into one of the most powerful Native American coalitions in North America. It wa...

Couple With Record-breaking Number Of Marriages

October 3, 2019

The institution of marriage means different things to different people. Some people would rather be institutionalized than to be married. Other people throughout hist...

Legend Of The Phoenix

October 2, 2019

The Phoenix is a legendary bird known for its ability to live hundreds of years before dying in a burst of flames only to be reborn from the ashes. Variations of the legend exist in folklore th...

What Happened to the Greenland Norse?

October 1, 2019

For four centuries the Norse Vikings had a colony on Greenland that had regular contact with Europe.One day it vanished. What happened? Erik the RedThe story begins in ab...

History Of Pets

September 30, 2019

According to the pet industry statistics reported by Smithsonian.com in 2016, “Americans own some 78 million dogs, 85 million cats, 14 million birds, 12 million small mammals, and 9 million reptiles.”...

The Politics And Poetry Of John Milton

September 29, 2019

Best known for writing Paradise Lost, John Milton was a 17th Century historian and writer, engaging in both poetry and prose. His political influence during his lifetime impacte...

The Underappreciated William Blake

September 25, 2019

circa 1800: English mystic, poet, painter and engraver, William Blake (1757 - 1827) and his wife Catherine (1762 - 1831). Original Publication: From a sketch by William Blake. Source: ...

The King Of Chefs And The Chef Of Kings: Georges-August...

September 24, 2019

Diners at the Savoy Restaurant, London, circa 1890. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) No person has had a greater impact on dining and hospitalit...

A Heroic Event in History That Changed Lives

September 22, 2019

(Original Caption) Scott Shaw of the Odessa (Texas) American won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography for this photo, taken October 16, 1987, of 18-month-old ...

Silk And Smugglers

September 18, 2019

Silken robes of the Imperial Court of China. Source: (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images) Silk has always been considered one of the most luxurious fabrics available throughout history...

Tiny Bird Mansions Of The Ottoman Empire

September 16, 2019

While it no longer exists, the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from the 14th to the early 20th century, was once one of the most powerful empires in the world. It encompassed a ...

The Famous Hurricane Party That Never Happened

September 14, 2019

“This is the site of the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi. This is the place where twenty-three people laughed in the face of death. And where twent...

A Butterfly in the Sun: The Mysterious Mata Hari

September 13, 2019

Mata Hari. Found in the collection of Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Source: (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) The historical archetype for the...

High Heels – Not Just For Women

September 12, 2019

Who came up with the idea of high heels – a shoe that medically is not even recommended for women to wear? High heel shoes can destroy the arches of the feet, cause sciatica and bac...

The Irish Hunger Strikes Of 1980 And 1981

September 11, 2019

May 1981: A policeman talking to IRA sympathizers bearing banners on behalf of the hunger striker Bobby Sands, during a May Day march at Clerkenwell Green in London. Source: (Ph...

The Rise and Fall of the Inca Empire

September 10, 2019

Ruins of Inca city on Machu Picchu. | Location: Urubamba Province, Peru. Source: (Photo by Jacques Haillot/Sygma via Getty Images) The Inca Empire was the largest empire in the wes...

How Dragons Conquered The World

September 9, 2019

Unlike creatures such as the Minotaur and the Hydra which are rarely seen outside of Greek mythology, dragons have endured across many cultures and range from fire-breathing, treasure-...