Humans have been making figurative art for at least forty thousand years – but we may have been carrying “found” art around for much longer.
At the 1978 Grammy Awards, in the category Best Pop Instrumental Performance, John Williams’ famous Star Wars soundtrack faced off against… a disco funk cover of the Star Wars soundtrack that had outsold and out-charted the original.
In the original edition of The Hobbit, Gollum was willing to give up the ring; before 1994 the American and British editions of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader were different; Madame Mim was removed from The Sword and the Stone for its 1958 reissue.
McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal came to us via a Chilean-Guatemalan restauranteur, a Missouri advertising agent, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
After Michelangelo’s death, his friend Daniele da Volterra was employed by the Vatican to paint over the genitalia of the Sistine Chapel’s Last Judgment.
In the mid-20th century, Austin Wiggin’s mother predicted that her son would have daughters, and those daughters would form a famous band. He did, and they did, in the most surprising way possible.
Every Indian flag in India is made in one small south Indian village.
The Japanese kotatsu combines a table, a heater, and a layer of comfortable blankets.
Michelangelo’s statue of Moses has horns, thanks to a mistranslation in the Latin Vulgate Bible.
The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is an underground underwater forest of 336 huge marble columns. It was built in the 6th century CE, but parts are much older – because they were scavenged from other buildings, sometimes with original sculptures intact.
In the 1865 German children’s book Max and Moritz, the titular troublemakers blow up a teacher, are baked in an oven, and finally get ground up in a flour mill and eaten by ducks.
The arpicembalo (harp-harpsichord) of Bartolomeo Cristofori could play notes both loud and quiet, which the harpsichord could not. It was the first piano.
Disney’s Robin Hood features a song about the “Phony King of England.” That song is based on an old (and very bawdy) English folk ballad about “The Bastard King of England.”
In 1978 a cache of five hundred film reels was discovered under an ice rink in Dawson City, Yukon. These buried reels included the only copy of films that had been lost for decades.
A highway goes directly through the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan; a monorail line goes directly through an apartment block in Chongqing, China.
Pangur Bán was an Irish monk’s cat in 9th century Germany; we know this cat’s name because the monk wrote a poem about him. Even though this poem was written more than a thousand years ago, Pangur Bán was not the first named cat in history.