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The impact of Shakespeare's investment

In 1594, William Shakespeare made a move that gave him financial stability and, some say, changed the way he wrote plays: he purchased a one-eighth share in the Lord Chamberlain's Men. One of those people is Dr Bart van Es of Oxford University's Faculty of English Language and Literature, who claims that the purchase gave the playwright a better relationship with and understanding of actors.

Our great big European family

Great Britain and continental Europe are just one, big family - at least genetically - according to a new study by Graham Coop, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis in PLoS Biology.

Viking "compass" may have calculated latitude

In a new study in the Proceedings of The Royal Society A, researcher Balázs Bernáth and his team propose that Viking-era sun compasses, whose "lines don't quite match scientists' interpretations," may have had another purpose: calculating latitude. (photo, diagram)

The mind of the medieval reader

Who knows what people in the 14th century reador thought? MIT professor Arthur Bahr thinks he does.

Richard III generates first research paper

It must have been a race to the finish line, but the first academic paper to be published on the discovery of the remains of Richard III is The king in the car park: new light on the death and burial of Richard III in the Grey Friars church, Leicester, in 1485 by Richard Buckley, Mathew Morris, Jo Appleby, Turi King, Deirdre O'Sullivan, and Lin Foxhall.

Exhibit showcases West's debt to Islamic doctors

In a new exhibit, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London will showcase the work of early Islamic physicians. The mirror of health: discovering medicine in the golden age of Islam will be on display at the college's museum from 1 May to 25 October 2013.

Richard III letter auctioned for UK£35,000

A rare document bearing the signature of Richard III before he was king was auctioned recently, bringing nearly UK£35,000. The document signed "R. Gloucestre" was written when the duke was in his twenties and involves a "land dispute between Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland, and some of his tenants."

Scoliosis and its medieval cure

The discovery of the remains of King Richard III of England has led to the discussion of the king's scoliosis, "a lateral or side-to-side curvature of the spine," easily seen in the skeleton, and the techniques that would have been available to "cure" it.

Richard on the couch

Now that Richard III's body has been identified, experts are probing his mind. In a paper presented March 2, 2013 at the University of Leicester, Professor Mark Lansdale and forensic psychologist Dr Julian Boon offered an analysis of Richard III's character.

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.

Did "Solarsteinn" lead Vikings west?

Experts have long speculated that a Norse Solarsteinn, or sunstone, was used to help Viking mariners find their way west through cloudy weather, and the discovery of such an artifact on a sunken, 16th century English warship may prove it.

Identity theft in the Renaissance

Most people believe that identify theft is a modern concept, but the Renaissance also had its share of frauds and pretenders. In a new book Renaissance Impostors and Proofs of Identity, author Miriam Eliav-Feldon of Tel Aviv University's Department of History looks at men and women of the time who played loosely with the rules of identity.

New Year magic in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the period after Christmas was a time for looking ahead to the new year. Practices included superstitions and methods to predict weather for the coming year. The clergy accepted some of the age-old rituals, but were loathe to allow others. A recent article for Phys.org looks at Christmas Day fortune telling.

Inability to adapt not the cause of demise of the Vikings

One of the theories about the demise of Viking settlers on Greenland was that the Norse were unable to adapt to the island's harsh climate, but Danish and Canadian researchers believe that was not the cause.

The complexity of identifying Richard III

Archaeologists, historians and royalists are waiting with bated breath for the determination of the identity of a skeleton found in Leicester, England. The skeleton is believed to be that of King Richard III, but they may have a long wait for the test results.

University of Exeter app to bring Anglo-Saxon poetry to smart devices

Like Anglo Saxon poetry? The University of Exeter will soon have an app for that! An article for Phys.org writes, "The University of Exeter's Modern Languages department is working in collaboration with Antenna International to create the App which will reveal the secrets of medieval literature to a new audience."

Tycho Brahe not poisoned

For over 400 years, rumours have surrounded the death of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, including one which suggested that Brahe was murdered using mercury by his assistant Johannes Kepler. Now, after two years, evidence from the scientist's exhumed body disproves the theory.

Psychological profiling by the Vikings

Dr Tarrin Wills, from the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, believes that Vikings used their understanding of human psychology to "profile" possible trouble-makers. He recently presented his research at the British Science Festival.

Banking records found under 15th century heraldry

Economic historians at Queen Mary, University of London have discovered Italian banking records dating to the early 15th century half covered by English coats of arms in a book of British heraldry.

16th century social networking

A team of experts from the University of London, Royal Holloway, and the British Library and Reading University has discovered documents to prove that 16th century Italian Academies created networks to share information.

Hoard of gold coins found in crusader castle

"This is the first hoard of gold coins that we have in Israel that we can date to the Crusader period," said Oren Tal, director of the excavation of the 13th century Crusader castle of Arsur, where a hoard of 108 gold coins was recently discovered.

Experts use modern technology to preserve Viking grave goods

In 1904, archaeologists discovered a Viking grave, containing wooden artifacts including a richly decorated ceremonial wagon, at Oseberg near the Oslo fjords. Since then, the wood fibers have begun to disintegrate, causing worry among officials at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, who have decided to use state-of-the art technology to save the artifacts.

Did Stonehenge unify Britain?

Experts from the Stonehenge Riverside Project have concluded that "Stonehenge was built as a monument to unify the peoples of Britain, after a long period of conflict and regional difference between eastern and western Britain."

"Absolutely fantastic" digitization project by Oxford and Vatican libraries funded

A US$3.17 million , four-year project, funded by the Polonsky Foundation, will make available for the first time materials from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford.

1000 years in Sicily: from Roman villa to monastery

For over 1,000 years, a farmland estate in the northeastern Sicilian village of Torrenova was in constant use, according to archaeologists from the University of Vienna. The land is believed to have hosted a Roman villa in late antiquity and a monastery throughout the Middle Ages. (photo)

16th century Korean boy helps scientists decipher hepatitis B genetic code

Israeli and Korean scientists have teamed up to study the remains of a Korean child, dating to the 16th century Joseon Dynasty, which show evidence of the hepatitis B virus. The results led to the map of the entire ancient hepatitis B viral genome.

"All's Well" with Thomas Middleton

A pair of professors from Oxford University believe they have confirmed William Shakespeare's collaborator, at least for the comedy All's Well that Ends Well. They believe it is Thomas Middleton, who worked with the Bard on Timon of Athens.

"Reluctance to change" helped medieval Icelanders survive

Most medieval societies faced with plague or natural disasters relied on flexibility to save their cultures, but new research shows that the "people of medieval Iceland survived disaster by sticking with traditional practices."

Science and eggs in 17th century England

Many articles have been written about excesses in eating during Tudor and Elizabethan times. An article posted recently on phys.org entitled Take thirty Eggs, fifteen whites, beat them well? looks at some excessive egg recipes from the 17th century.

Ancient Arabic manuscripts reveal abnormal weather patterns

Modern scientists hope to study global weather patterns with the help of ancient scholars. Using writings from 9th and 10th century Iraq, a team of scientists from the Universidad de Extremadura hope to learn about climate change by comparing ancient and modern data.