Martin Luther’s Monsters

Prodigies, or monsters, were opaque and flexible symbols that signaled that God was sending some message.
Girls' Beating the Bounds' at a fence near St Albans in Hertfordshire, 1913

“Beating the Bounds”

How did people find out where their local boundaries were before there were reliable maps?
William Cheselden giving an anatomical demonstration to six spectators in the anatomy-theatre of the Barber-Surgeons' Company, London, c. 1730

The Study of Human Anatomy and the Corpses of Vienna

For cultural and geographical reasons, the city was a great place to find bodies to dissect. But there was also the matter of one well-connected doctor.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schreibzeug_(Nürnberg).jpg

How Renaissance Artisans Turned Live Animals into Silver

Lifecasting was the renaissance art of making sculptures using molds taken from real-life plants and animals.
George Washington's teeth

Were George Washington’s Teeth Taken from Enslaved People?

We know a surprising amount about the dental history of the nation’s first president.
Design for Necklace with Brazilian Beetles, ca. 1900

Insect Jewelry of the Victorian Era

The wing-cases of gold-enameled weevils hung from necklaces; muslin gowns were embroidered with the iridescent green elytra of jewel beetles.
An unknown paleontologist, 1860

The Dinosaur Bone Wars

1877 was a banner year for American dinosaurs: three major finds in the West turned the region into a "paleontologist's El Dorado."
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Saint_John_the_Baptist_C2RMF_retouched.jpg

Where Do Finger Names Come From?

Our names for our fingers show a surprising depth of cultural variation—and similarity.
Scholars attending a lecture in the Ashmolean Museum

The Invention of the Archive

Seventeenth-century scholars were horrified by how much ancient knowledge had been lost when the monasteries dispersed.
Sultan Mehmed III of the Ottoman Empire

Why Ottoman Sultans Locked Away Their Brothers

Fratricide among rival princes was legal and widely practiced until 1603, so confinement to the palace was actually an improvement.