Up until 1982, all crystals were believed to be, by definition, periodic. But then an Israeli materials scientist discovered something strange…
Socotra, the alien island wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, is home to the dragon blood tree: a source of dye, paint, medicine, varnish, and magic.
The Sardinian launeddas, also known as a triplepipe, sounds like someone playing three clarinets at the same time.
The escape artist Harry Houdini and the author H. P. Lovecraft collaborated on a “true” Egyptian horror story.
How about that time that the Egyptian Mamluks, with secret support from Venice, battled the Portuguese in the sea off the coast of India?
In 1967, fifteen ships and their crews were trapped on the Suez Canal because of the Six-Day War. The ships would remain there for the next eight years.
Most accidental mummies are preserved by heat, cold, or peat bogs. But in the Chehrabad mines in Iran, the bodies of ancient miners were buried in salt.
In early Christian tradition, the power of saints’ relics could be transferred from object to object by a simple touch.
The shamir is described in the Talmud and Midrash as a tool capable of slicing through solid stone, iron, and diamond – but was it a worm, a laser, or a radioactive rock?
Proto-Indo-European is thought to be the ancestor language of English, Latin, Greek, French, Russian, Urdu, Sanskrit, Farsi, and dozens of others. But what did it sound like?
Al-Khazneh, the temple carved out of a cliff in Petra, is the most famous remnant of the Nabataean Kingdom. But to its south lies Hegra, the cursed stoneland city.
The Quran contains 114 chapters, but they are arranged neither chronologically nor thematically. Instead, they go from longest to shortest.
We all know that Egyptian tombs contained models of servants, boats, and animals to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. But they sometimes also contained model gardens, granaries, bakeries, breweries, stables, and slaughterhouses.
Tāq Kasrā, one of the last surviving buildings of the ancient Sasanian Empire’s capital city, has the largest unreinforced brick arch in the world.
Between 1746 and 1792, seventeen students of Carl Linnaeus set out across the globe to collect plant and animal samples for his new taxonomy. Seven of these apostles died on the trip, and one would betray Linnaeus.
The first author whose name we know was Enheduanna. Daughter of Sargon the Great, she wrote religious hymns, so she can also lay claim to being the first named poet in history.