Around 1508 the Italian Renaissance artist Giorgione painted The Tempest. No-one knows what it means.
From the 15th to the 19th century CE, the Akan used sets of ornate statues as a measurement system for weighing gold dust, but also encoding and reinforcing cultural knowledge at the same time.
On June 25, 1900, tens of thousands of important historical manuscripts were found in a secret room within the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, China, where they had been hidden for nearly a millennium.
Masaccio’s Holy Trinity is possibly the earliest surviving work of art to use a single vanishing point. His work and that of Brunelleschi triggered a Renaissance explosion of mathematical perspective in art.
One of the miracles attributed to Saint Nick is the resurrection of three children before they could be turned into Christmas hams.
The first pictorial representation of Jesus Christ is insulting Roman graffiti that gives him a donkey’s head.
In 1806 the French artist Jean-Gabriel Charvet premiered one of the first multi-panel artistic wallpapers: it depicted a romanticised and colonial panorama of explorations in the South Pacific.
In 1919, Marcel Duchamp drew a moustache and goatee on a postcard of the Mona Lisa, renamed it with a bawdy French pun L. H. O. O. Q., and called it art. Half a century later, he framed an unmodified Mona Lisa postcard and named it L. H. O. O. Q. Shaved.
In the 9th century CE, a town in what is now Nigeria produced the most masterful bronze artefacts in the world.
Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli once teamed up to steal the Arno river.
In 2004 a plaque commemorating Father Pat Noise was installed on a bridge in Dublin, Ireland. Pat Noise never existed.
Artists sometimes change or improve paintings by painting over old versions. Through careful examination or special imaging, we can sometimes see these ghosts of lost art again.
There is a courtyard gallery in the Palazzo Spada in Rome that is designed to fool the eye. It looks like it should be 37 metres long, but in fact it’s only 8 metres in total.
Monet’s 1890-1891 painting series Les Meules à Giverny captured haystacks at multiple times of the day, seasons, and weather conditions. He did this by painting several canvases at once, swapping them as the day changed.
The silicon chip pictured here is the central processor from a 1991 Hewlett-Packard 9000 700-series workstation. It contains 577,000 transistors… and a horse?
For the several of the first modern Olympic Games you could win a gold medal in sculpture, painting, music, literature, or architecture.