1601 CE and Later

Law firm recognizes "historic value" of ancient deeds

John Ward, of the wills and estates planning department at Napthens, in Winckley Square, Preston, England, was delighted to be able to be able to handle a recent find at the law firm: the property deeds establishing poor houses, and property deeds dating to the 1550s.

Invergarry Castle gets a "Second Life"

Invergarry Castle in the Highlands of Scotland is a ruin. It was burned by Cromwell and later ransacked by English soldiers, but it now has a new virtual life in the online world of Second Life.

17th century recipe books online

Jane Stockton of the Kingdom of Lochac reports that the Wellcome Library has posted its entire collection of 17th century recipe books on its website in PDF format. The manuscripts are searchable by way of the library's catalog.

Search of the grave of Fulke Greville could solve Shakespeare mystery

A group of parishioners at St. Mary's church in Warwick, England have requested permission to open the tomb of Fulke Greville, a writer and contemporary of Shakespeare, who, some believe, wrote at least some of Shakespeare's plays. They hope that mysterious "boxes" in the grave might contain manuscripts.

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."

Researchers investigate "ancient lighting"

A team of experts is investigating ancient lighting techniques to evaluate how artifacts would look in their original light. The result "is a warm, sumptuous glow, which the researchers describe as subtle and pleasant compared with the 'rough, almost unnatural' effect of modern lighting." (photo)

Death of Henry Hudson still a mystery

Explorer Henry Hudson died in 1611. That much is known, but the circumstances of his death are still a mystery. Could it have been murder?

Lost Knowledge: Timbrel vaulting

A look at the largely-lost Medieval art of timbrel vaulting structures and the related, more modern (late 19th century) system of interlocking terracotta tiles which create what are known as Guastavino domes, after their inventor, Rafael Guastavino.

Evidence suggests Galileo may have discovered Neptune

Professor David Jamieson, Head of the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, says examination of the notebooks of Galileo reveal that the Italian scientist probably discovered Neptune over 200 years before its officially-listed discovery date.

Lituus plays again

Before the trumpet curled into its present configuration, was the Lituus, an 8.5 foot long instrument last heard 300 years ago. Now new software has allowed the "lost" instrument to be recreated. (photos)

"World's most complete known witch bottle" found in Greenwich, England

A "witch bottle," constructed according to known recipes from 16th and 17th century England, has been found buried upside-down in Greenwich, England. The bottle contains urine, nail clippings, hair and pins, and is believed to be an anti-witchcraft device.

"A minion of the finest sorte"

Experts at the site of colonial Jamestown are trying to puzzle out the inscriptions on a slate tablet found at the bottom of the town's first well. Among drawings and other markings, the tablet is inscribed with the words "A minion of the finest sorte." (photo)

Airtight latrine preserves centuries-old broom

Archaeologists are excited about the discovery of a 300-year-old, perfectly-preserved broom in the excavated latrine of the St. Ulrich Church monastery in Paderborn, Germany. (photo)

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.

Pages from da Vinci's "Codex Atlanticus" unglued

A group of Benedictine nuns from the Abbey of Viboldone haave been working tirelessly for months to unbind Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus, a collection of writings and drawings bound into a single volume in the 17th century by sculptor Pompeo Leoni.

Inbreeding may have led to the demise of the Hapsburgs

A new study by geneticists from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain shows that inbreeding may have weakened the male line and brought about the end of the Hapsburg dynasty. The last king, Charles II of Spain, died in 1700 without male heirs.

How Galileo changed the way we view the universe

Galileo Galilei was not the first to make a telescope, nor the first to use it to observe the heavens, but his observations of the moon and stars are widely regarded as a seminal event in the history of astronomy and religion.

Huge cache of 17th century beads found in Georgia

A recently discovered large collection of glass beads dating to the 17th century proves that global trade had reached the shores of North America. The 70,000 beads, which included Venetian, Dutch, French and Chinese glass beads, were found at an excavation at the Santa Catalina de Guale Mission. (photo)

New York celebrates Henry Hudson's discovery of New Amsterdam

In commemoration of the Henry Hudson's 400th discovery of the City of New Amsterdam, the Museum of the City of New York will present “Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson,” an exhibition of 275 artifacts housed in a replica of the hull of Henry's triple-masted ship. The exhibit runs through September 2009.

Tunnel network found under Malta's capital

A series of tunnels, believed to have been constructed by the Knights of Malta, descendants of the Crusader knights, have been discovered beneath the Maltese capital of Valletta. Experts believe that the tunnels were built in the 16th or 17th centuries in defense of the city from Muslim attack.

Shakespeare Facebooked

If William Shakespeare had had a Facebook or MySpace account, what might it have looked like? Mike McPhaden thinks he knows with Wm. Shakespeare's Five and Twenty Random Things Abovt Me. (PG-13 for language)

Display of artifacts from Shah Abbas I at British Museum

A new exhibit of Iranian art dating to the 16th and 17th centuries is now open at the British Museum in London. Shah 'Abba's The Remaking of Iran will run through June 2009.

"O Fortuna" demystified

Over the years, many of us have marveled at the power that "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana had as a soundtrack to film battle scenes. Yet, have we ever considered the lyrics to the piece? A video on YouTube offers a "karaoke" version of the work, complete with an English translation of the Latin words.

America's oldest free library may close

Out of our time period, but a sad commentary on the financial crisis in the United States: Delaware County's Darby Free Library (Pennsylvania) is one of eleven libraries destined to close their doors due to lack of funding. The library "is believed to be the oldest continuously operating public library in America."

Benedictine nuns victims of Black Death

The remains of several Benedictine nuns from the Sainte-Croix Abbey near Poitiers, France have shown evidence that the sisters died of the plague, probably while caring for other victims of the disease. Their deaths have been dated to the early 17th century.

St. Francis prayer of modern origin

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith,” is a prayer long attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. But a recent article dates the prayer to the beginning of the 20th century.

"Murder" at the re-enactment

A fall 2008 Civil War re-enactment in Virginia went terribly wrong when a Yankee cavalryman from New York was shot and wounded by a .44-caliber ball from an 1860 Army Colt pistol.

Italian astronomers to re-create Galileo's telescope

For the 400th anniversary of Galileo's creation of his telescope, a group of Italian scientists will recreate "the kind of telescope and conditions that led to Galileo’s world-changing observations."

The etymology of the hangover

On the blog Proof for the New York Times, Iain Gately ponders the history of hangovers and the euphemisms used to deal with them.

Researchers use church records to reconstruct weather patterns

A team of Spanish researchers are using records of agricultural rites kept by the Cathedral of Toledo to reconstruct a pattern of droughts that plagued the country between 1506 and 1900.