Cork oak (Quercus suber) pasture near Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain.

Plant of the Month: Cork

Why is cork so strongly associated with bottle stoppers? The answer goes back centuries.
An advertisement for Burdock Blood Bitters

The Bitter Truth About Bitters

A bottle of bitters from about 1918 had significant amounts of alcohol and lead—and not a trace of the supposed active ingredient.
A collection of rare beer cans

An Archeologist’s Guide to Beer Cans

Here's how to figure out how long it's been since someone left their empties around, only to be dug up later.
An 18th century casta painting

The Paintings That Tried (and Failed) to Codify Race

Casta paintings of the eighteenth century tried to show who was who in New Spain. But reality was much more complicated.
Photograph: Witch Bottles used for curse protection

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Witch_Bottles_Curse_Protection.jpg

Is There a Witch Bottle in Your House?

In the 16th-18th centuries, vessels filled with nails, thorns, hair, and other materials, were used as a form of ritual protection against witches.
Witch Marks on the wall of a cave at Creswell Crags.

Witches’ Marks Protected Spaces from Evil

Throughout history, people tried to protect spaces from evil with apotropaic marks, ritual concealments, and other charms.
Border between Mexico and US reaching into the pacific ocean

Border Walls are Symbols of Failure

From feudal fortresses to contemporary border barriers, walls have always offered more symbolic value than real protection.
Horse skull

The Horse Skulls Hidden in the Dance Floors of Ireland

Old houses in Ireland often have horse skulls buried beneath the floors, but folklorists and archaeologists disagree on exactly why.
Marbles Reflecting a Rainbow Background

Losing Our Marbles

For decades kids across the world played with marbles, creating their own games and slang. So why did such a popular game go suddenly extinct?
antique cans

Frontier America in a Collection of Tin Cans

For Jim Rock, tin cans were as important as shards of ancient pottery. Each can told a story of nineteenth and twentieth century life in America.