Tremolite asbestos from the Aure Valley, French Pyrenees

When Asbestos Was a Gift Fit for a King

File under: “don’t try this at home.”
Sketch of a Mayan sacrificial stone, the engravings on the stone show men in ceremonial dress engaging in a blood-letting ritual.

Stingray Spines and the Maya

In Maya culture, rulers used stingray spines in bloodletting rituals. Researchers have ideas about why.
A stamp printed by Poland, showing Ibn Sina

The Vast Influence of Ibn Sina, Pioneer of Medicine

In the 11th century CE, science was rapidly advancing in the Islamic world. The scholar Ibn Sina (Avicenna) synthesized its medical wisdom.
Stale bread

The Ancient Art of Brewing with Stale Bread

Brewers are once again making beer from things that typically end up in one’s household trash, a 7,000-year-old custom.
The war elephants of Phyrrus at the battle of Asculum, 279 B.C.

How “Pyrrhic Victory” Became a Go-To Metaphor

We call futile victories "pyrrhic," after an ancient Roman battle. But that battle may have been misinterpreted--or had a different conclusion altogether.
Ancient Greek funerary naiskos

When Was the First Handshake?

A Curious Reader asks: When and how did the handshake originate?
mesoamerican ballgame

A Mesoamerican Ball Game Returns

An ancient ball game called Ulama is making a comeback in Mexico. What do we know about the earlier iteration of the game?
Yaxchilán, Maya ancient city

Why Civilizations End

Scientists studying fallen civilizations suggest that the culprit is overshoot in combination with climate change. What does this mean for our current era?
Kingdom of Kush

The Lost Kingdom of Kush

A handful of archaeological sites and the written language Meroitic are all that remains of the Kingdom of Kush, located in what is now Sudan.

Alexander The Great… Globalist?

Globalization is the watchword of our time, but maybe Alexander The Great was the first global citizen.