In previous centuries, unless you were a member of the nobility, a wealthy religious order, or a merchant guild, your chances of spending any significant amount of time with a Medieval tapestry were slim.[...]
It must come up in every single argument, from sophisticated to sophomoric, about the practicability of non-violent pacifism. “Look what Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.[...]
A good disaster story never fails to fascinate — and, given that it actually happened, the story of Pompeii especially so. Buried and thus frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the ancient Roman town of 11,000 has provided an object of great historical interest ever since its rediscovery in 1599.[...]
Image of Ancient Egyptian Dentistry, via Wikimedia Commons
When we assume that modern improvements are far superior to the practices of the ancients, we might do well to actually learn how people in the distant past lived before indulging in “chronological snobbery.” Take, for example, the area of dental hygiene.
We all know the name Goethe — some of us even know the full name, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.[...]
Before electronic amplification, instrument makers and musicians had to find newer and better ways to make themselves heard among ensembles and orchestras and above the din of crowds. Many of the acoustic instruments we’re familiar with today—guitars, cellos, violas, etc.[...]
Popular entertainment has romanticized the idea of the road trip as a wholly spontaneous adventure, but for mid-century African American motorists, planning was essential. The lodgings, restaurants, and tourist attractions where they could be assured of a warm welcome were often few and far between in the era of segregation.[...]
Back in high school, I worked part-time at the Gap, a job that, for all its discomforts — the late-night restocking, the Sisyphean folding and re-folding, those headsets — really only left a bitter memory because of the music.[...]
What would you choose for your last meal?
The comfort food of your childhood?
Or some lavish dish you never had a chance to taste?
What might your choice reveal about your race, regional origins, or economic circumstances?
Artist Julie Green developed a fascination with death row inmates’ final meals while teaching in Oklahoma, where
Most of us Open Culture writers and readers surely grew up thinking of the local public library as an endless source of fascinating things.[...]