Many observers of modern social science are convinced of the maxim: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’. Yet good historical scholarship has always used statistics as the antidote to the ‘damned lies’. This is especially useful with the Industrial Revolution, where wild theories dominate. Below I examine three famous theories […]Read more "The search for an explanation for why Britain was the first nation to industrialise"
Vietnam’s Cham Islands, renowned for tropical beaches, granite cliffs and the swallows now circling dizzily overhead have a ominous history. The names for these islands reflect their shape and character – one is called “East Wind”, another “Tomb”. That is the first clue to the history of these waters. This is the story of the coast that […]Read more "The Wreck Detectives"
You are what you eat – but also how you eat and who you eat with. Food can affect your mood, your bowels and your world-view, write Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott, authors of Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants. In this age of the foodie, the gourmand and the gourmet, we have […]Read more "What do dictators like to eat?"
How do you get from Christopher Columbus to Butterball by way of Constantinople? Just ask Ataturk. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently made the news when he claimed that Muslim seafarers “discovered America” and that when Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba in 1492 he found a mosque, built there by the natives, who were also […]Read more "A Surprising History of Turkey in America"
Published nearly 500 years ago, Andreas Vesalius’s medical text books occupy an important place in scientific history. Intricate art, unlike anything that had been seen before, sits alongside detailed text that sought to change the way bodies were dissected post mortem. Cambridge University Library holds well-preserved copies of the Fabrica, and its companion piece the […]Read more "The self-publicist whose medical text books caused a stir"
Archaeologists in Greece have uncovered a skeleton from a tomb dating back to the era of Alexander the Great. The excavation has refueled rumors about the Greek conqueror, whose final resting place remains a mystery. An archaeological team digging roughly 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Athens near the city of Amphipolis in recent months discovered […]Read more "Archaeologists find skeleton in Alexander the Great-era tomb"
The countless monuments, art, artifacts and history of civilizations lost to conflict are each a tragedy in their own right. It is a cruel irony that the Middle East, a region so blessed with the treasures of early human civilizations, is also among those most troubled by conflict. As the violence threatens to annihilate some […]Read more "19 priceless monuments lost in conflict"