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This Swordsmith Hacks Ancient Weapons to Unlock the Secrets of Viking Metallurgy

Jeff Pringle is a US-based swordsmith, so it’s no surprise he has has hundreds of pre-industrial and Viking-era swords, axes, knives and other sharp, wonderful artefacts in his collection. But Pringle describes his collection as almost “accidental” and he the way he uses his collection has put the blades he makes himself in high demand amongst living history fans eager to use a weapon as close to historically accurate as possible. Read More >>

history
Medieval Italian Man Replaced His Amputated Hand With a Knife

Italian anthropologists have documented a remarkable case in which a Medieval-era Italian male not only managed to survive the amputation of his right hand, he also used a bladed weapon as a prosthetic limb. Read More >>

history
Turns Out They Invented That ‘How You Think You Look Vs. How You Really Look’ Meme Back in 1921

Comedy is hard, and the past was no better. Just look at, say, what 19th-century jerks considered acceptable territory for an April Fools’ Day prank. Read More >>

history
Why Do People Think Friday 13th is Unlucky?

Being wary of Friday the 13th is much more than a quaint superstition observed by a few uneducated people in distant, unreachable towns and hamlets. In the United States alone, it is estimated that between 17 and 21 million people dread that date to the extent that it can be officially classified as a phobia. Read More >>

history
Medieval Cheater’s Dice With Two Fours and Two Fives Found in Norway

Six-sided dice date back nearly 5,000 years to ancient Persia, so finding 600-year-old dice in Norway isn’t anything special. But this recently discovered dice—with its conspicuously absent one-side and two-side—is unique, pointing to some Medieval-era shenanigans. Read More >>

science
Antarctic Expedition to Find Ernest Shackleton’s Lost Ship Set for Next Year

Early next year, an international team of explorers will investigate the area in-and-around the massive iceberg that split away from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017. As an added bonus, the researchers will also attempt to locate the wreck of the Endurance, which sunk in 1915 as part of the ill-fated Shackleton expedition. Read More >>

design
How Colours Are Discovered

In the early 18th century, German chemist Johann Jacob Diesbach was at work in a laboratory trying to make a red pigment out of cochineal insects, the tiny bugs whose extract dyes everything from food to lipstick. Diesbach hypothesised that he could combine the carmine extract with alum, iron sulphate, and potash to make the pale red hue he desired. There was a problem, though. The potash Diesbach used had been contaminated, which altered the chemical makeup of his pigment. Instead of red, Diesbach had unwittingly created something far more valuable: a deep ocean-like blue. Read More >>

april fools
The Horrific April Fools’ Pranks of The 19th Century

Here in the 21st century, April Fools’ Day is a pretty harmless holiday. Brands trot out their fake products and news organisations make silly claims and then we all go about our day. But back in the 19th century, April Fools’ Day could be pretty brutal. In fact, it could be downright dangerous. Read More >>

history
Here’s What Protects Shipwrecks From Looters and Hacks

On 25 May 1798, the HMS DeBraak was entering Delaware Bay when a squall struck without warning. The British ship that originally belonged to the Dutch capsized and sank, taking 34 sailors and a dozen Spanish prisoners down with it. Rumoured to contain a hoard of gold and jewelry, the DeBraak became a popular target for treasure hunters in the years that followed. The wreck was finally discovered in 1986, lying under 80 feet of water at the mouth of the Delaware River. The team who found the ship attempted to raise it from its watery grave, resulting in one of the worst archaeological disasters in modern history. The event precipitated the passing of long-overdue laws designed to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Read More >>

archaeology
Supposedly Empty Egyptian Coffin Actually Contains a Mummy

For the past 150 years, the cedar coffin of an ancient Egyptian priestess has been on display at a museum in Australia. Records suggested the 2,500-year-old sarcophagus was empty, so no one bothered to look inside. Last year, museum curators finally opened the lid, and to their shock, the coffin contained an actual mummy—bandages and all. Read More >>

history
Dead Medieval Woman ‘Gave Birth’ to Baby in Coffin

Italian archaeologists have uncovered a medieval grave containing the remains of a woman and a foetus lying between her legs. It’s a grim example of a “coffin birth,” say the researchers, but there’s even more to this horrific Middle Ages tragedy than that. Read More >>

history
Sunken US Warship Found 76 Years After Infamous WWII Tragedy

A team of civilian explorers led by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has located the wreck of the USS Juneau, an American light-cruiser that went down during the Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942. Nearly 700 sailors were killed in the incident—including five brothers, in what turned out to be the largest loss incurred by a single American family during the Second World War. Read More >>

history
Did a Poem About a Horrific Volcanic Eruption Destroy the Norse Gods of Iceland?

New research connects a powerful volcanic eruption—and a medieval poem that conjured memories of the dreaded event—to Iceland’s conversion to Christianity. Read More >>

history
US Aircraft Carrier Sunk in WW2 Battle Finally Found Off Australian Coast

The USS Lexington, a US aircraft carrier lost during the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, has been discovered by a team of civilian researchers off the north-east coast of Australia. Read More >>

history
Record-Breaking 131-Year-Old Message in a Bottle Found on Australian Beach

On 12th June 1886, a German ship in the Indian Ocean tossed a bottle into the water to track the currents. Amazingly, that bottle was discovered earlier this year on a beach in Australia, making it the oldest message in a bottle ever found—a time capsule, 131 years in the making. Read More >>