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The Farmer’s Law  


The Farmer’s Law cannot be dated with certainty, nor is its exact authorship known. But internal evidence points to a date in the seventh or eighth century, probably right around 700. This ... More

Flagellants attempt to ward off the Black Death in Germany and in England  

Robert of Avesbury

Although flagellation (beating oneself with a whip) had been practiced as a means of spiritual discipline by monks long before, it did not emerge as a public group activity until the ... More

The Gold Mines of Nubia  

Agatharcides of Cnidus

The societies and trade networks that flourished along the Red Sea (or “Erythraean Sea” as the Greeks called it) in antiquity were well documented by writers of many different cultures. ... More

The Irish Crisis  

Sir Charles Trevelyan

Sir Charles Trevelyan (1807–1886) spent fifteen years as a British colonial officer in India, where he pursued reform of living conditions; when he was recalled to England, he worked to ... More

Of Lice and Men  

William J. Burroughs

William J. Burroughs, a scientist who specializes in physics and climate ponders the unwelcome relationship between people and lice, and what that reveals about evolution and migration of ... More

“On Extinct Quadrupeds,” Principles of Geology  

Charles Lyell

Sir Charles Lyell (1797–1875), a friend of Charles Darwin, was a Scottish geologist who was so notable that to this day, in his honor, a crater on the moon and a type of armored fish both ... More

“On Sociability,” The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871  

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin (1809–1882), a British naturalist, propounded the theory of evolution in his famous work On the Origin of Species (1859). With this theory, Darwin launched a massive debate ... More

The Origin of Species  

Charles Darwin

The name of Charles Darwin (1809–1882) is inextricably linked to the earth-shattering and (even today) controversial theory he proposed in 1859. However, it is also important to remember ... More

“Peculiarities of a Prodigal Century”  

J.R. McNeill

J. R. McNeill is an environmental historian at Georgetown University. In Something New Under the Sun (2000), McNeill provides a broad and comprehensive history of environmental change in ... More

Pedro Cieza de León on Incan roads  

Pedro Cieza de León

The Incas created an imperial communications and logistics infrastructure that was unparalleled in the Americas, with two highways extending to the north and south from Cuzco nearly the ... More

Qibla Map  


This qibla map (qibla roughly translates as “sacred direction” in Arabic) is centered on the holiest place in Islam—the Ka’ba in Mecca. The obligation to pray in the direction of Mecca is ... More

Reed Chart from the Marshall Islands, South Pacific  


Traditional Micronesian and Polynesian maps of the Pacific, such as this example from the Marshall Islands, from about 1880, show sea lanes across the ocean in the form of reeds that link ... More

The Second Sex  

Simone de Beauvoir

Encouraged by the successful strategy and tactics of the civil rights and antiwar movements, a new assertiveness also marked the drive for women’s rights after the conclusion of the Second ... More

Treaty of Versailles  

David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, Woodrow Wilson

The Treaty of Versailles concluded the First World War. Signed between the Axis powers and the victorious Allies, it was drafted primarily by the “Big Three,” Britain, France, and the ... More

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Copenhagen  

United Nations Drafting Committee

While there has been considerable debate over the last several decades on the nature and degree of global warming, there is general scientific consensus that greenhouse gases are the main ... More

Upside Down World Map  


This “upside down” map is oriented so that south is up, north is down, east is on the left, and west is on the right. The Southern Hemisphere is thus at the top of the map, instead of at ... More