The Centuries-Old Silver Jug That Conjures the Mysteries of the Silk Road

Stretching From Rome and Africa to Asia, the Ancient Trade Route Lured Invaders, Migrants, and Merchants—and Left Artifacts Rich With Meaning

As China has promoted its Belt and Road Initiative—an ambitious plan to open new markets for China by building logistics and trade infrastructure from Asia to Europe and Africa—the Chinese government has drawn parallels with the fabled Silk Road, which operated from Africa to Europe and Asia from roughly 200 B.C. to A.D. 1400.

But, as a matter of history, the “Silk Road” was nothing like the Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, in its time, there was no “Silk Road” at all. The Silk Road is actually a modern …

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How Crop Circles Saved the Great Plains

In the 1940s, Farmer Frank Zybach Invented Center Pivot Irrigation and Brought the Dust Bowl Back to Life

If you live in the Great Plains, sooner or later you’ll get a question about those “crop circles” that can be observed from airplane windows during flights over the region. …

Closed-Circuit TV Is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Human Behavior

While Researchers Used to Rely on Interviews and Experiments, Raw Video Reveals Subtle, Previously Hidden Reactions

In a 2012 YouTube video of an attempted robbery in California, a strange scene unfolds.

Two robbers enter the Circle T Market in Riverbank. One carries a large assault rifle, an …

The South Carolina Monument That Symbolizes Clashing Memories of Slavery

In Charleston, Blacks and Whites Have Viewed the Bronze Likeness of Racist Ideologue John C. Calhoun From Radically Different Angles

In the center of Charleston, South Carolina, in a verdant green space that plays host to farmers markets, festivals, and sunbathing undergraduates, stands a monument of John C. Calhoun, the …

The Amsterdam Rabbi Who Became the Most Famous Jew in the World

In the 17th Century, Menasseh ben Israel Did More Than Anyone to Promote Judaism and Educate Christians of Its Richness

Toleration across political and religious divides is increasingly giving way to suspicion and hostility. So it is no small comfort to study the lives of those who, in even more …

Why Americans Invented the RV

In 1915, New Creature Comforts Created by Technology Merged with the Back to Nature Movement

On August 21, 1915, the Conklin family departed Huntington, New York on a cross-country camping trip in a vehicle called the “Gypsy Van.” Visually arresting and cleverly designed, the …