New York Times

Vandalism mars 16th century Persian masterpieces

Auction houses have long profited from the 19th century practice of destroying precious painted manuscripts from Iran, India or Turkey by selling pages ripped from the books. Souren Melikian of the New York Times looks at this phenomenon.

Elizabethan theaters and the Internet

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Scott Turow, Paul Aiken and James Shapiro ponder the connection between “cultural paywalls,” public playhouses, and the free sharing of creative content on the Internet.

Ren Fair pioneer, Ron Patterson, dead at 80

If you enjoy wearing tights, playing a lute, eating turkey legs, and doing it all for paying crowds, you may have Ron Patterson to thank. Patterson, who created Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California in 1963, is credited with having founded the modern Renaissance Fair.

"Season of the Witch: a 14th-century road movie with 21st-century cuss words"

Season of the Witch, the new Nicolas Cage costume drama set in medieval Europe, tells the story of two crusaders and the witch girl they are hired to transport to her doom. Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times has a review.

Modern illumination

In recent years, it has become the vogue to learn calligraphy for special occasions. Now the medieval artform of illumination may also see a modern revival. (photos)

Medieval religious building reflects modern conflict

In the 8th century, the caliphs of Cordoba, Spain constructed the magnificent great mosque. After their conquest, 13th century Christians rechristened the building a cathedral. Now the two cultures have begun to clash again over tourist signs.

Jousting as extreme sport

In an article for the New York Times Magazine, Dashka Slater asks the question: "Is jousting the next extreme sport?" The "violent sport" is attracting attention at jousting competitions around the world such as the Gulf Coast International Jousting Championships near Pensacola, Florida.

Science proves the value of pickle juice

That traditional jar of pickles on the list table is not just a superstition or a tasty snack. It turns out that, as athletes have long believed, pickle juice is effective at relieving exercise-induced muscle cramps.

De Soto traces exhibited in Atlanta

At Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, visitors can see the results of a new excavation in a remote corner of southeastern Georgia.

Oberammergau Passion Play tradition in peril?

For 400 years, the people of Oberammergau have staged the Passion Play once a decade as a thanksgiving for being spared from the Black plague. Now, a new kind of plague is testing the faith of performers and audiences .

Jewish contributions to medieval Spain

“Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians and the Altarpieces of Medieval Spain”  opened recently at the Museum of Biblical Art near New York's Lincoln Center. The exhibition takes a historical approach to Jewish contributions to Christian art in the two centuries before they were expelled from Spain by Queen Isabella in 1492.

Magna Carta to stay longer in New York

New Yorkers and visitors to the city will have an unusual opportunity to see the Magna Carta throughout May at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan.

Robin Hood: "creature of the media"

In October of 2009, Robin Hood fans and foes gathered for the International Association for Robin Hood Studies, a three-day conference at the University of Rochester in New York. The conference "featured a series of events that highlighted Robin Hood’s status as a creature of the media."

16th century museum reopens in Venice

The concept of a museum to view art and antiquities was unknown until 16th century Venice when wealthy families designed buildings to showcase Roman statuary. Now the Palazzo Grimani, one of the pioneering museums of the city, has restored and reopened to the public.

Crusaders: Villains or saints?

Historians have long debated the motives and actions of the medieval crusaders who took the Holy Land by force in the 11th century. New York Times reviewer Eric Ormsby has a review.

New Syrian Excavation Offers Light on Inventors of Writing

At Tell Zeidan in Syria, a few hours' drive from Aleppo, archaeologists believe they will find rich discoveries about the culture that flourished there before the first cities appeared further south. 

A visit to Jewish China

A New York Times article by Matthew Fishbane tells the story of the author's trip to Kaifeng in search of remnants of of one China's medieval Jewish communities.

New book looks at four months in the life of Anne Boleyn

The Lady in the Tower, a new book by Tudor scholar Alison Weir, looks at the last four months in the life of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Janet Maslin of the New York Times has the review.

Samurai armor at the Met

Fighting heroically, while looking good and living well, seems to be the theme of an exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156-1868 runs through January 10 , 2009. (photos)

Agincourt redux

The Battle of Agincourt took place on St. Crispin’s Day, October 25, 1415, and the details of the victory of the English over the French has been debated since that time. In a recent article for the New York Times, James Glanz looks at the controversy which continues to this day.

Desperately seeking Da Vinci

Scientist Maurizio Seracini believes there is s lost Da Vinci painting hidden inside a wall in Florence’s city hall, and he wants to use high tech techniques to find it. The Battle of Anghiari, the largest painting Leonardo ever undertook, was never completed, but was studied "as an unprecedented study of anatomy and motion."

Haggis invented by the English

English historian Catherine Brown, whose documentary Made in Scotland aired recently on British television, claims that haggis "was originally an English dish."

Living like a noble in Germany

Travelers to Germany who want a special experience might want to consider staying in one of the 50 castles and stately homes serving as hotels. Deborah Kolben of the New York Times looks at the experience of living the life of German nobility. (slideshow)

13th century Jewish remains returned to earth in Spain

Negotiations between the Spanish government and Jewish leaders concluded recently with the reburial of more than 100 medieval Jews whose final resting places were disturbed during construction of a school in Toledo, Spain.

Spanish ceremonial armor exhibit in Washington D.C.

Pennsic attendees may want to take a side trip to Washington D.C. to view an exhibit of Spanish art and ceremonial armor. The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits From Imperial Spain will be on display at the National Gallery of Art through November 1, 2009. (photos)

Local currency vs. the coin of the realm

How did the modern currency system develop? Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc., discuss the medieval origins of money in a short video from The New York Times.

400th anniversary of Shakespeare's sonnets

On May 20, 1609, the first collection of Shakespeare's sonnets was published in London. On his book blog Paper Cuts, New York Times reviewer William S. Niederkorn looks at the impact of some of the world's most famous poetry.

Debate continues over Michelangelo crucifix

A EU3.3 million wooden crucifix, bought recently at auction by the Italian government, may or may not have been created by Michelangelo. The newly-purchased piece made its debut in December at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, and was visited by the Pope.

Verrocchio sculptures by student da Vinci?

Were two of the sculptures in Andrea del Verrocchio's silver altar panel Beheading of the Baptist actually created by the artist's student assistant Leonardo da Vinci? Gary M. Radke, a professor of the humanities at Syracuse University, thinks so. The work will be on exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA.

Met offers treasures of the Korean Renaissance

Visitors to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art will be treated to a small exhibit of ceramic jars, lacquer boxes, and scroll paintings from 15th - 17th century Korea when they encounter Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600. (photos)