Religious History

Volunteers repairing and refreshing the 180-foot-tall giant in 2019

This Mysterious Hillside Carving Is Actually Hercules, Researchers Say

England's 180-foot-tall Cerne Abbas Giant may have served as a landmark for gathering troops

Fascinating finds unveiled in 2023 ranged from a 12-sided object that may have been used for sorcery to a lost Rembrandt portrait.

117 Fascinating Finds Revealed in 2023

The year's most exciting discoveries included a stolen Vincent van Gogh painting, a hidden medieval crypt and a gold-covered mummy

A crane lifts the new golden rooster to the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral's spire on December 16, 2023.

Notre-Dame Gets New Spire and Golden Rooster

The return of these two distinctive features marks a poignant milestone in the cathedral's reconstruction

Icaria was guided by a single principle: “to each following his needs, from each following his strengths,” as Cabet put it.

The 19th-Century Novel That Inspired a Communist Utopia on the American Frontier

The Icarians thought they could build a paradise, but their project was marked by failure almost from the start

This 15th-century medical manuscript shows different colors of urine alongside the ailments they signify.

Modern Medicine Traces Its Scientific Roots to the Middle Ages

Contrary to popular belief, early medieval doctors relied on rational deduction to understand and treat disease

Jean Fouquet's Melun Diptych features two panels, Étienne Chevalier with Saint Stephen on the left, and Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels on the right.

Mysterious Stone in 15th-Century Painting Could Be a Prehistoric Tool

Jean Fouquet's "Melun Diptych" is likely the earliest artistic representation of an Acheulean hand ax

The sword had a bent blade, a straight hilt and an oval pommel. Researchers also found its scabbard.

1,000-Year-Old Sword and Cemetery Unearthed in Finland

Researchers identified eight burials, but they say the graveyard may hold dozens—or even hundreds—waiting to be discovered

A European depiction of Hasan Sabbah, an 11th-century leader of the Nizari Ismailis, and his followers in a garden paradise

The Medieval Sect That Inspired the Video Game 'Assassin's Creed'

The Order of Assassins is loosely based on the Nizari Ismailis, who formed a Shiite Muslim state that relied on political assassination to achieve its goal

Historian Peter Mancall says New English Canaan is “not very long” and “not very well written,” but holds immense value in what it says about the nation’s founding.

How America's First Banned Book Survived and Became an Anti-Authoritarian Icon

The Puritans outlawed Thomas Morton's "New English Canaan" because it was critical of the society they were building in colonial New England

The Buddha statue stolen from the Barakat Gallery on September 18

Thief Steals $1.5 Million Buddha Statue From Los Angeles Gallery

Gallery officials say they are stumped as to why the 250-pound artwork was targeted

Boatmen off North Sentinel Island in 1998

A Century Before the Residents of a Remote Island Killed a Christian Missionary, Their Predecessors Resisted the British Empire

When a white clergyman tried to punish captive Andamanese for their supposed misdeeds, they slapped him back

A psalter owned by Henry VIII offers something that fans of the Tudors have craved for centuries: a window into the mind of the tyrannical English ruler.

Henry VIII’s Book of Psalms Reflects His Quest for Legitimacy—and His Fear of Death

Handwritten annotations in the Tudor king's psalter show how he looked to scripture to justify his break from Rome and the annulment of his first marriage

George Herbert’s pictures aren’t just decorative. They reinforce the meanings of his poems.

These 17th-Century Poems Painted Pictures on the Page—and Defied the Church of England's Rejection of Religious Images

George Herbert's shaped poetry subtly pushed back against the iconoclasm of the English Reformation

Researchers found parts of the original church beneath the cathedral's quire.

Archaeologists Discover 900-Year-Old English Cathedral's Hidden Medieval Crypt

The team also found the original foundations of Exeter Cathedral's high altar, Roman-era structures and empty graves

Minarets are built adjacent to mosques and used to call Muslims to prayer.

300-Year-Old Minaret Toppled to Make Way for Road Expansion in Iraq

Residents and cultural officials are dismayed by the city of Basra's decision to demolish the structure

Johann Baptist Schmitt, The Hermit in Flottbeck, 1795

Ornamental Hermits Were 18th-Century England's Must-Have Garden Accessory

Wealthy landowners hired men who agreed to live in isolation on their estates for as long as seven years

The canoe was discovered in an underwater cave in 2021.

Maya Canoe Found in Underwater Cave May Have Been Used for Rituals

Archaeologists discovered the seven-foot-long vessel near Chichén Itzá two years ago

Forensic artist Hew Morrison created this rendering based on the skull of the girl.

Forensic Artist Reconstructs the Face of a Teenager Who Lived 1,300 Years Ago

Researchers have spent a decade unraveling the mysteries of the girl's unusual burial site

This icon featuring images of Saints Sergius and Bacchus is one of four encaustic paintings on display at the Louvre after being evacuated from Ukraine.

Secretly Evacuated From Ukraine, Rare Icons Now on View at the Louvre

Amid Russian attacks, Kyiv's Khanenko Museum sent 16 precious artworks to Paris for safekeeping

After more than 100 years, Germany returned two centuries-old masks to Colombia's Indigenous Kogi community.

Germany Returns Sacred Wooden Masks to Colombia

In Berlin, the centuries-old artifacts were treated with chemicals that could pose health hazards

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