A physician wearing a seventeenth century plague preventive costume

How the Plague Reshaped the World

The bacterium that causes the plague emerged relatively recently, as bacterium go. And yet the pandemics it's created have altered the world.
Grave site of American botanist Asa Gray (1810-1888), in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

When Cemeteries Became Natural Sanctuaries

In the 19th century, bucolic, park-like cemeteries started cropping up on the outskirts of American cities.
An opossum feigning death

The Biology of Death-Feigning

Some animals, when faced with predators, play dead instead of trying to escape. But for death-feigning to work, a lot of things have to go well.
A headstone featuring clasped hands

The Cemetery Symbol of Eternal Love

Why did Victorian-era gravestones include so many images of clasped hands?
Pope Formosus and Stephen VI by Jean Paul Laurens, 1870

The Cadaver Synod: Putting a Dead Pope on Trial

Why did Pope Stephen VI go to such great lengths to destroy an enemy who was already dead?
Volunteer nurses tending to the sick and wounded.

When Death Was Women’s Business

In the 19th century, women called "watchers" tended to the dying and the dead.
The Hobet mine in West Virginia taken by NASA LANDSAT in 2009

When Mining Destroys Historical Cemeteries

Mountain top removal mining brings with it total ecosystem destruction. It also erases history by destroying historic mountain cemeteries.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Percy Bysshe Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Obsession with the Cemetery

The author of Frankenstein always saw love and death as connected. She visited the cemetery to commune with her dead mother. And with her lover.
Colonial headstone

Funerals Once Included Swag

In eighteenth-century New England, funeral attendees went home with funeral tokens–usually a pair of gloves or a ring that declared their sorrow.
Mummified cats

How Ancient Peoples Fed the Dead

4,000 years ago in what is now Jerusalem, someone was buried with a jar of headless toads. In fact, many ancient graves included food for the afterlife.