Myth

Vassily Maximov, A Sorcerer Comes to a Peasant Wedding, circa 1875

In Early Modern Russia, the Majority of Accused 'Witches' Were Men

Orthodox Russians deployed magic for practical purposes, like inflicting illness, harming business competitors and attracting lovers

Last September, an installation of almost 700,000 white flags on the National Mall paid tribute to the Americans who have died of Covid-19.

Covid-19

The Civil War Drastically Reshaped How Americans Deal With Death. Will the Pandemic?

Around 750,000 people died during the conflict—2.5 percent of the country's population at the time

Excavations in Troy, circa 1890s

The Many Myths of the Man Who 'Discovered'—and Nearly Destroyed—Troy

In the 1870s, amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann inflicted irreparable damage on the site of the legendary city

The newly-discovered limestone statuette is over 4,500 years old.

Cool Finds

Palestinian Farmer Digs Up 4,500-Year-Old Goddess Sculpture

While working his land, Nidal Abu Eid uncovered a statue of Canaanite deity Anat

Archeologists work in the ruins of the temple of Zeus Kasios, a deity that merges the Greek god and Mount Kasios. 

Cool Finds

Archaeologists Discover Temple in Egypt Inspired by Greek God Zeus

The deity was honored throughout the ancient world

Most of the possibly royal graves rest in the center of square or rectangular enclosures like the one pictured here, at Plas Gogerddan in Wales.

Cool Finds

Possible Royal Graves Dated to the Time of King Arthur Found in Great Britain

New research brings the number of potential burial sites of early medieval Celtic rulers from 2 to more than 20

In 51 B.C.E., Julius Caesar noted that people in Britain did not eat hares due to their religious significance.

The Ancient Origins of the Easter Bunny

A scholar traces the folk figure's history from the Neolithic era to today

The only reference to 355 appears in an August 15, 1779, letter: “I intend to visit 727 [Culper code for New York] before long and think by the assistance of a 355 [lady in the code] of my acquaintance, shall be able to outwit them all.”

Women Who Shaped History

The Myth of Agent 355, the Woman Spy Who Supposedly Helped Win the Revolutionary War

A single reference in the historical record has spawned an array of adaptations, most of which overstate the anonymous figure's role in the Culper Spy Ring

A collage of Vladimir Putin placing his hand on Joseph Stalin's shoulder. Richard Cohen's new book Making History details the links between the two Russian leaders.

History of Now

Vladimir Putin's Rewriting of History Draws on a Long Tradition of Soviet Myth-Making

Much like Joseph Stalin, the Russian president has used propaganda, the media and government-sanctioned books to present an ahistorical narrative

Medieval manuscripts featuring stories about King Arthur and Camelot

Art Meets Science

How Much Medieval Literature Has Been Lost Over the Centuries?

A new analysis suggests that just 9 percent of manuscripts produced in Europe during the Middle Ages survive today

The new Netflix series imagines what would have happened if Harald Hardrada (played by Leo Suter) were best buddies with Norse explorer Leif Erikson (Sam Corlett) and the lover of Leif’s sister, Freydís Eiríksdóttir (Frida Gustavsson).

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind Netflix's 'Vikings: Valhalla'

A spin-off of the long-running series "Vikings," the show follows a fictionalized version of Norwegian king Harald Hardrada

Detail from a 4th-century B.C. Persian sarcophagus, thought to depict a Greek-Anatolian battle scene, found in a tomb near Troy.

In Search of Troy

It wasn’t just a legend. Archaeologists are getting to the bottom of the city celebrated by Homer nearly 3,000 years ago

A first-century C.E. mosaic of Hercules and Iolaus

Cool Finds

Archaeologists Identify Possible Location of Lost Temple of Hercules

Experts in Spain used laser scanning technology to locate submerged ruins along the coast of the Bay of Cádiz

In each of the extant nine accounts, the victim is captured in battle and has an eagle of some sort carved into their back.

New Research

Did the Vikings Actually Torture Victims With the Brutal 'Blood Eagle'?

New research reveals the feasibility of the infamous execution method

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

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 plaster cast of a "ghost turnip" carving from Donegal, Ireland

When People Carved Turnips Instead of Pumpkins for Halloween

Revelers in Ireland transformed the root vegetables into lanterns designed to ward off dark spirits

Nestor's Cup, named for its ties to a legendary king referenced in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, bears one of the earliest known Greek inscriptions.

Cool Finds

Researchers Are Unraveling the Mystery of the Ancient Greek Tomb of 'Nestor's Cup'

New analysis suggests the 2,800-year-old burial held the remains of at least three adults, not a child as previously believed

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 pages were disposed of as scrap and pasted into an unrelated book.

 

Cool Finds

Rediscovered Medieval Manuscript Offers New Twist on Arthurian Legend

The 13th-century pages, found by chance at a British library, show a different side of Merlin, the magician who advised Camelot's king

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