History

The Welsh town of Caernarfon played a crucial role in the fraught history between England and Wales; here, in the late 13th century, English king Edward I built an imposing castle to solidify his conquest of the region. Recently, during a survey ahead of construction, archaeologists stumbled upon several important relics from Caernarfon’s medieval past—including
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | March 20, 2020, 7 a.m. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, museums and cultural institutions across the globe are closing their doors to the public. But while visitors can no longer roam the halls of these institutions, virtual tools and online experiences mean anyone with an internet connection can browse world-class collections from home. The
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | March 18, 2020, 12:48 p.m. It was 1977, and Hinda Miller, Lisa Lindahl and Polly Smith were doubled over with raucous laughter. They say their very clothing was in jeopardy. “We were literally peeing in our pants we were laughing so hard,” chuckles Lindahl. The object of their amusement? Lindahl’s then-husband and his
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Donkeys tend to get a bad rap. Shorter, stockier and more floppy-eared than their majestic horse relatives, these plucky equids have been maligned throughout history—and in modern pop culture—as homely, stubborn dunces. But were she still around today, a certain Tang Dynasty noblewoman would likely have a bone to pick with this derogatory trope—a whole
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | March 18, 2020, 9:24 a.m. The Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums, galleries, gardens and National Zoo have temporarily shut their doors as a public health precaution aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. But while these brick-and-mortar buildings may be closed, the Smithsonian remains active in the digital sphere, making it easy for museum
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When the 19th Amendment became law in August 1920, it constituted the largest simultaneous enfranchisement in American history—women nationwide had finally obtained, at least on paper, the right to vote. But it’s the struggle for suffrage, which stretched more than 75 years prior, and not just the movement’s eventual victory that UCLA historian Ellen Carol
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | March 17, 2020, 10:27 a.m. As efforts to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis ramp up, schools across the United States—including those in New York City, Washington, D.C., and dozens of states—have closed their doors, leading students, teachers and caregivers alike to seek out online educational tools. To help support this search,
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A jaw-dropping example of Ice Age architecture has been unearthed on Russia’s forest steppe: a huge, circular structure built with the bones of at least 60 woolly mammoths. But exactly why hunter-gatherers enduring the frigid realities of life 25,000 years ago would construct the 40-foot diameter building is a fascinating question. “Clearly a lot of
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The ball game pok-ta-pok was nearly ubiquitous in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, but today, its origins remain a matter of debate among archaeologists. Though a version of the activity appears in the Maya creation myth, many modern researchers suspect it actually originated near the Gulf Coast. Now, however, a newly discovered pok-ta-pok court nestled in the highlands
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Just weeks after a team of German researchers announced that an archaeology intern had unearthed a spectacular, 2,000-year-old Roman dagger in North Rhine-Westphalia, headlines are touting another student-led discovery centered on one of the oldest swords ever found. Italian archaeologist Vittoria Dall’Armellina stumbled upon the blade in a monastery-turned-museum during her tenure as a graduate
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