Archive - Apr 21, 2013 - Story

Ransom profitable for medieval rank-and-file

History has recorded that the ransom of kings and nobles was a popular way for armies to raise money during the Middle Ages, but new research shows that the practice may have also been popular among common soldiers.

"State-of-the-art" medieval medicine showcased in mummified head

For centuries, medical historians have believed that advancements in medicine were stalled between the days of Galen and the Renaissance. Now radiocarbon dating of a mummified, dissected head to the 13th century, shows that medieval doctors may have been more sophisticated than previsouly believed. (photo)

The case for the "blood eagle"

While the image of the Vikings has been rehabilitated in the past few years, showing them as peaceful farmers and artisans, some evidence of cruel and bloodthirsty behavior does exist. In Smithsonian's blog Past Imperfect, Mike Dash looks at the more brutal side of the Norsemen, and the fact of torture such as the "blood eagle."