History

In semi-darkness, I make my way down a tunnel-like corridor, treading barefoot on the cold stone floor. Fifty figurines of the Buddha, five feet tall and remarkably lifelike, flank one side of the vaulted chamber, eyes cast downward in contemplation, each painted face subtly individuated—broad or slender noses, smiles or frowns, chins pointed or rounded.
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Nov. 15, 2019, 3:45 p.m. Jeff Edwards’ primary school teacher had just started the day’s math lesson when an ominous rumble sounded in the distance. “The next thing I remember was waking up,” he later recalled. “My right foot was stuck in the radiator and there was water pouring out of it. My
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Historians remember September 1781 as the month the Continental Army began its last major land battle, bolstering the rebel Americans’ morale and breaking Britain’s will to fight. But something more prosaic happened that month when 13-year-old Betsy Bucklin sat down with needle and thread to work on her sampler. She was not alone: Countless girls
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Nov. 15, 2019, 11:29 a.m. A few weeks after her June 17, 1943, wedding, a young Jewish artist named Charlotte Salomon entrusted her friend and doctor, Georges Moridis, with a trove of carefully wrapped papers. “Keep these safe,” she said. “They are my whole life.” Salomon’s directive was far from an exaggeration. As
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Some ancient Egyptian tombs contain millions of mummified ibises, or hook-billed shorebirds sacrificed in honor of the ibis-headed god Thoth. The origins of these avian mummies have long been unclear, but now, a new genetic survey published in the journal PLoS ONE suggests the vast majority of sacrificial birds came from the wild. Archaeologists had
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Nov. 13, 2019, 4 p.m. Election Day in 2019 didn’t involve any high-profile House or Senate or Presidential seats up for the taking, but it could have historic consequences. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, voters handed Democrats control of both its statehouse chambers. As a result, the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) stands a
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Every art history student knows the names Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer. But today, these men’s female contemporaries—among others, Judith Leyster, Maria Sibylla Merian and Magdalena van de Passe—remain little-known, their contributions to the Golden Age of Dutch Painting overlooked in favor of presenting a male-dominated artistic canon. Now, an exhibition at the National
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The handwriting was on the wallpaper for Kutol. Founded in 1912 in Cincinnati, the company’s primary product—a soft, pliable compound used for wiping soot from wallpaper—was no longer in demand and the firm’s future looked bleak. Fortunately, the sister-in-law of one of its principals had an idea: let kids play with it. Kutol Products had
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Marine archaeologists discovered the wrecks of two well-preserved 17th-century warships off the coast of Vaxholm, a Swedish island near Stockholm, last Tuesday. Per a press release from Stockholm’s Vrak Museum of Wrecks, researchers suspect one of the vessels is the sister ship of the famed Vasa warship, which sank in the Baltic Sea in 1628
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In the neighborhood of Tultepec, just north of Mexico City, plans were recently underway to convert a patch of land into a garbage dump. But during preparatory excavations, workers at the site found themselves digging up woolly mammoth bones—hundreds of them. Over the course of ten months of archaeological and anthropological work, experts were able
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When archaeologists excavated a Scottish Iron Age site called the Cairns in 2016, they discovered a hollowed-out whale vertebra filled with a trio of unexpected objects: a human jaw bone and the remains of two newborn lambs. Dated to about the mid-2nd century A.D., the vessel was propped near the entrance of a broch, or
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