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.
An illustration by James Gillray, 1807

Vulgarity: An Alternative Language of the People

Was Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue the font of all popular culture studies?
A moose skeleton

America, Where the Dogs Don’t Bark and the Birds Don’t Sing

The Comte de Buffon's thirty-six volume Natural History claimed that America was a land of degeneracy. That enraged Thomas Jefferson.
A family around a thanksgiving dinner table, colored red and blue

Talk about This, Not That

Looking to avoid politics at the holiday dinner table? Food trivia, ground-up mummy pigment, and snake jaws ought to do the trick.
Tofurkey

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dates Back to the 1900s

Tofu turkey was created in 1990, but some Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with veggie dishes over a century ago.
Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen looking into an X-ray screen placed in front of a man's body and seeing the ribs and the bones of the arm.

The X-ray Craze of 1896

For many science-obsessed Victorians, X-rays were not just a fun novelty, but a potential miracle cure.
The Premature Burial by Antoine Wiertz

The Fear of Being Buried Alive (and How to Prevent It)

Pliny the Elder remarked: “Such is the condition of humanity, and so uncertain is men’s judgment, that they cannot determine even death itself.”
Charlie Brown

How the Great Pumpkin Became Great

The origins of Linus's pumpkin deity, who "rises out of the pumpkin patch and flies through the air and brings toys to all the children in the world."
The Dance of Death

A Roman Feast… of Death!

The banquet hall was painted black from ceiling to floor. By the pale flicker of grave lamps, the invited senators coud make out a row of tombstones.
Several beers in a row

Did Humans Once Live by Beer Alone? An Oktoberfest Tale

Some scholars have suggested that humans first started growing domesticated grains in order to make not bread, but beer.