The Quest for Blue

The Quest for Blue

Rare in nature and difficult to extract from minerals, blue eluded artisans for centuries until Egyptians invented the world’s first synthetic pigment. Formulas for blues from cobalt and indigo followed, and the results have delighted our eyes and evoked the sacred, the royal, the opulent and the mysterious ever since. And the quest is not over.
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Pinisi Boats Sail into the Future

Pinisi Boats Sail into the Future

Masterpieces of a wooden-boat tradition from the center of the 5,200-kilometer-wide Indonesian archipelago, pinisi schooners are both unique and related to the Arab dhows and European sailing ships that preceded them on the waters that link the region’s thousands of islands. Using memory, 
not blueprints, pinisi shipwrights build each boat by hand.
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Shanidar Cave Yields New Signs of Neanderthal Emotions

Shanidar Cave Yields New Signs of Neanderthal Emotions

Traces of flowers in a Neanderthal grave found 45 years ago in northern Iraq led to a theory that even the earliest humans may have expressed emotions in ritual. In 2016 archeologists returned: Could new finds lend support to the theory, or not?
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Spice Migrations: Pepper

Spice Migrations: Pepper

It is the most common spice on tables around the world today, and for centuries, growing and trading the round corns of Piper nigrum—black pepper—created wealth, from pepper’s monsoon-watered origins in India to all of Asia, East Africa and Mediterranean Europe.
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Hi Jolly – Uncle Sam’s Camel Captain

Hi Jolly – Uncle Sam’s Camel Captain

As a young man in Ottoman Turkey, Hadji Ali became an expert camel handler. In 1857 he accepted the US Army’s offer to assist its deployment of camels in the southwestern deserts, where his name was Americanized to “Hi Jolly.” His skills proved valuable, and yet he died penniless. Today his memory endures in legend as much as in fact—and on one miniature pyramid in Arizona.
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Flavors: Spicy Bean Soup

Flavors: Spicy Bean Soup

There were several meat dishes, so I asked if I could eat only non-meat ones. They were happy for that and charged very little—perhaps because the meat dishes were the centerpiece. This bean soup, harira, is often made with lamb, but this is a meatless version. I sometimes add peas or other veg to use them up. 
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FirstLook: My Grandmother’s Tlaba

FirstLook: My Grandmother’s Tlaba

In my hometown of Yefren, about 200 kilometers southwest of Tripoli, Libya, in the Nafusa mountains, my cousin Mira wears our grandmother’s tlaba (wool garment) to connect to her family roots. The photo is part of a documentary project I started to depict Amazigh women from Libya.
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Habibi Funk’s Musical Revivals

Habibi Funk’s Musical Revivals

Across North Africa a few back-street stores still sell records pressed in the ’70s and ’80s. There Jannis Stürtz has been digging for local classics to rerelease on his digital-and-vinyl label, Habibi Funk, bringing them to global audiences and illuminating some the era’s most vibrantly hybrid music scenes.

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The Alhambras of Latin America

The Alhambras of Latin America

From the 1860s to the 1930s, architects throughout South America and the Caribbean took inspirations from the Islamic design heritage of southern Spain, where the most inspiring building of all proved to be the Alhambra palace.

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