Religion

This 14th-century religious carving of a water spirit was part of a window decoration in a Kathmandu monastery.

Rubin Museum Agrees to Return Stolen Religious Artifacts to Nepal

An investigation launched by the New York cultural institution concluded that the 14th- and 17th-century carvings were "unlawfully obtained"

The newly discovered synagogue is the second found in the ancient community.

Cool Finds

Researchers Unearth 2,000-Year-Old Synagogue in Mary Magdalene's Supposed Hometown

The religious center is the second of its kind found in Migdal, an ancient community on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee

Excavators discovered the underground ritual site beneath Garibaldi Plaza, formerly part of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán.

Cool Finds

Aztec Altar Secretly Built After the Spanish Conquest Discovered in Mexico City

Researchers found incense burners, a vessel containing cremated remains and other artifacts in the former capital of Tenochtitlán

Made of pure silver, the coin was minted during the second year of the Great Revolt.

Cool Finds

Israeli Preteen Discovers Rare Silver Coin Minted During Jewish Revolt Against Rome

Eleven-year-old Liel Krutokop found the shekel, which dates to the second year of the first-century C.E. Great Revolt, while sifting through dirt

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 team found traces of an earlier temple beneath the famed sun temple of Nyuserra (pictured).

Cool Finds

Archaeologists Discover 'Lost,' 4,500-Year-Old Egyptian Sun Temple

Fifth-Dynasty pharaohs built six such structures. Until now, only two had been found

Carved by industrious miners thousands of years ago, countless shafts wend through the desert of the Timna Valley.

An Archaeological Dig Reignites the Debate Over the Old Testament's Historical Accuracy

Beneath a desert in Israel, a scholar and his team are unearthing astonishing new evidence of an advanced society in the time of the biblical Solomon

Ruffo’s installation features rolled botanical prints filling 17th-century wooden bookcases.

The Vatican, Home to Centuries-Old Masterpieces, Opens a Contemporary Art Gallery

Pope Francis calls for a "new beauty" that is reflective of a new, more diverse world

The Srivijaya Empire was known for its wealth and dominance of maritime trade routes.

Cool Finds

Indonesian Divers Discover Treasures From Enigmatic 'Island of Gold'

Archaeological evidence of the Srivijaya Empire is limited, but recent finds made along the Musi River may shed light on the mysterious civilization

Houdini exposed fake Spiritualist practices by having himself photographed with the "ghost" of Abraham Lincoln.

For Harry Houdini, Séances and Spiritualism Were Just an Illusion

The magician spent years campaigning against fraudulent psychics, even lobbying Congress to ban fortune-telling in D.C.

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

All mollusks build their own shells.

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How Do Snails Get Their Shells? And More Questions From Our Readers

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Attorney, author, scholar and reverend Pauli Murray, pictured here on December 22, 1976

LGBTQ+ Pride

The Trailblazing, Multifaceted Activism of Lawyer-Turned-Priest Pauli Murray

New documentary tells the story of a Black and LGBTQ thinker who helped lay the legal groundwork for fighting gender- and race-based discrimination

Researchers in Turkey have uncovered an all-but-forgotten ancient Greek temple and a 50,000-seat stadium (shown).

Entrance Gate to Greek Temple of Zeus Unearthed in Turkey

Archaeologists excavating the ancient city of Magnesia hope to fully restore the 2,300-year-old sacred structure

In this 2017 photo, employees set up scaffolding to remove stained-glass windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson at Washington National Cathedral.

National Cathedral to Replace Confederate-Themed Stained Glass With Art Dedicated to Racial Justice

Artist Kerry James Marshall will create two new windows for the historic Washington, D.C. church

Archaeologists have been excavating the palace, which served as the seat of power for the Silla dynasty, since 2014.

Remains of Likely Human Sacrifice Victim Found in Foundation of Korean Palace

The young woman died in her 20s during the fourth century C.E.

The Great Synagogue of Vilna was built in the 1630s.

Cool Finds

Remains of Lithuanian Synagogue Destroyed by Nazis and Soviets Unearthed

Excavations uncovered the Great Synagogue of Vilna's Torah ark, impressive staircases, a raised prayer platform and more

The Iron Age sculpture is one of only a dozen of its kind found in Ireland to date.

Cool Finds

Eight-Foot-Tall, 1,600-Year-Old Statue of Pagan Deity Found in Ireland

The well-preserved wooden sculpture may have been part of a ritual site where animal sacrifices were carried out

The choir performs at the ruins of a mill in Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County, Georgia

Smithsonian Voices

Hear a Georgia Choral Group as They Rediscover the Art of Sacred Harp Singing

Students find lasting resonance in the words and simple notes of the 1869 hymn 'How Can I Keep from Singing?'

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