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The Decameron, “Putting the Devil Back in Hell”  

Giovanni Boccaccio

A Latin scholar, poet, and biographer, Boccaccio (1313–1375) is most famous today as the author of the Decameron. This compilation of 100 tales, by turns serious, bawdy, and irreverent, ... More

Feudal Contracts and the Swearing of Fealty  


In the catastrophe brought on by the assaults on all their borders, some European midieval Christians were forced to devise new means of self-protection. Into this vacuum of governmental ... More

Golden Bracelets from the “Lost City” of Mapungubwe, South Africa  


The archaeological site of Mapungubwe, first discovered and excavated in the 1930s, spans the borders of present-day South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. It was one of the most powerful ... More

Nihongi Shoki (Chronicles of Japan)  


The Nihon Shoki is the first official history of Japan. It draws on numerous sources, including Chinese histories, clan histories, and the accounts of religious authorities. While it ... More

On Personal Piety  

Yi Kyu-bo

The author of this personal essay was Yi Kyu-bo (1168 – 1241), a poet, essayist, and critic in the Koryo kingdom of Korea. He was also a high-ranking civil servant, who passed the ... More

Skeletons in a Wari Royal Tomb site, El Castillo de Huarmey, Peru  


In 2013, 63 skeletons were discovered in a tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey, about 175 miles north of Lima, in what would seem to be the first imperial tomb of the Wari culture discovered in ... More

The Story of My Misfortunes  

Peter Abelard

One of the most brilliant professors and theologians of the European Middle Ages, Peter Abelard (1070–1142) became a star performer in the academic art of “dialectic.” His abilities also ... More

The Swahili Saga of Liyongo Fumo  


Liyongo is the trickster-hero of a several East Africa tales, which were transmitted orally and eventually written down in the nineteenth century. They may have been told as early as the ... More

The Tale of Genji  

Murasaki Shikibu

The daughter of a minor noble in the court at Heian-Kyo in central Japan, Murasaki Shikibu (ca. 973–1025) created Japan’s most popular work of fiction and one of the world’s great literary ... More

The Tale of Genji, “The Picture Competition”  

Murasaki Shikibu

Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji is a product of Japan’s Heian period (794–1185). In that era, Japan was greatly influenced by Chinese governmental and cultural forms, which were ... More