World History

This year's list includes Four Lost Cities, About Time and The Man Who Hated Women.

The Ten Best History Books of 2021

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and help explain how the U.S. got to where it is today

This composite photograph shows the bison herd with one of the newly discovered petroglyphs overlaid on the sky.

Bison in Canada Discover Ancient Petroglyphs, Fulfilling an Indigenous Prophecy

Reintroduced to Wanuskewin Heritage Park in 2019, the animals' hooves uncovered four 1,000-year-old rock carvings

The term “Crusade” has always been an anachronism—a way of looking back at complex, often disconnected movements with a wide array of motivations, membership, tactics and results and organizing them into a single coherent theology or identity. Pictured: A 19th-century painting of the 1177 Battle of Montgisard by Charles-Philippe Larivière

The Many Myths of the Term 'Crusader'

Conceptions of the medieval Crusades tend to lump disparate movements together, ignoring the complexity and diversity of these military campaigns

The Roman elite viewed public toilets as an instrument that flushed the filth of the plebes out of their noble sight.

How the Ancient Romans Went to the Bathroom

A new book by journalist Lina Zeldovich traces the management of human waste—and underscores poop's potential as a valuable resource

“Martineau was extremely unusual in the amount of control she had over her own medical care,” says Rachel Ablow, author of the 2017 book Victorian Pain.

The Victorian Woman Writer Who Refused to Let Doctors Define Her

Harriet Martineau took control of her medical care, defying the male-dominated establishment’s attempts to dismiss her as hysterical and fragile

Ary Scheffer, The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil, 1835

Before Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca Were Literature's Star-Crossed Lovers

Centuries after Italian poet Dante published "The Divine Comedy," Romantic artists and writers reimagined the tragedy as a tale of female agency

During the Middle Ages, dragons more often figured in accounts about the lives of saints and religious figures than stories of heists and adventures.

Why Dragons Dominated the Landscape of Medieval Monsters

The mythical beasts were often cast as agents of the devil or demons in disguise

A new book by journalist Andrew Lawler chronicles an illicit 1909–1911 excavation in Israel's Holy City. Pictured here: a replica of the Ark of Covenant in front of an early 20th-century map of Jerusalem

The Secret Excavation of Jerusalem

A British aristocrat looking for the Ark of the Covenant launched history's most peculiar archaeological dig—and set off a crisis in the Middle East

Survivors received “fever passes” that certified their immunity, allowing them increased freedom of movement at a time when a substantial portion of the population was being held under strict quarantine.

Covid-19

In 19th-Century Gibraltar, Survivors of a Deadly Virus Used 'Fever Passes' to Prove Their Immunity

Should historic health officials' response to yellow fever outbreaks on the Iberian Peninsula serve as a model for modern pandemic management strategies?

A decent fellow after all? King George III, painted by Sir William Beechey (1753-1839).

In Defense of King George

The author of a new biography shines a humane light on the monarch despised by the colonists

Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes was serving as a consul general in France when the Nazis invaded the country.

The Untold Story of the Portuguese Diplomat Who Saved Thousands From the Nazis

As the German army marched across France, Aristides de Sousa Mendes faced a choice: obey his government or follow his conscience—and risk everything

The timbers of a 500-year-old ship rest on the floor of the Baltic Sea. Scholars and divers are studying the legendary wreck.

An Extraordinary 500-Year-Old Shipwreck Is Rewriting the History of the Age of Discovery

In the frigid Baltic Sea, archaeologists probing the surprisingly well-preserved remains of a revolutionary warship are seeing the era in a new way

Almost 75 years after the mobster’s death, an eclectic bunch of enthusiasts continue to chase his memory.

Inside the Global Cult of Al Capone

A recent auction of the Chicago gangster's mementos testifies to his enduring appeal—and the thorny nature of collecting items owned by criminals

Adam Driver (left) plays Jacques Le Gris, a French squire accused of raping Marguerite, wife of knight Jean de Carrouges (right, played by Matt Damon).

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind 'The Last Duel'

A new film from Ridley Scott dramatizes the 1386 trial by combat of a medieval man accused of a horrific crime

In Six, Henry VIII's wives (top row, L to R: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour; bottom row, L to R: Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr) reclaim their stories.

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind 'Six,' the Tudor Musical About Henry VIII's Wives

The show's creators, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, reflect on the smash hit ahead of its Broadway premiere

The Surprising Artistic Life of Ancient Sparta

Poets and lyricists populated the Greek civilization

A monument in Thermopylae to King Leonidas.

Sparta Was Much More Than an Army of Super Warriors

Fierce? Yes. Tough? You bet. But the true history of the Greek civilization had a lot more nuance

The “Assasin’s Creed” series, famous for using real historical events as a backdrop to the games, have gone through scenarios such as the Crusades, the American Revolution and the Golden Age of Piracy.

When Playing Video Games Becomes a History Lesson

On campuses across the country, professors are putting historically based games into the classroom

In the modern era, the European discovery of North American became a proxy for conflicts between American Protestants and Catholics, as well as northern Europeans who claimed Vikings like Leif Eriksson (left) as their ancestors and southern Europeans who touted links to Columbus (right) and the monarchs of Spain.

Viking Map of North America Identified as 20th-Century Forgery

New technical analysis dates Yale's Vinland Map to the 1920s or later, not the 1440s as previously suggested

The Tuxtla statuette, discovered in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1902, now resides in the National Museum of Natural History.

What Secrets Does This 1,800-Year-Old Carved Stone Hold?

The Tuxtla Statuette illuminates an endangered Latin American culture

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