History

The Westward Journeys of Buttons

The Westward Journeys of Buttons

We all use them. Most fasten; some decorate. A search for origins points toward the Indus Valley and China. By the Middle Ages, buttons reached Europe along with other garment techniques and fashion influences from lands east. Their stories are as interwoven as the textiles they make possible and as varied as their infinite designs.
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A League of Their Own

A League of Their Own

In the era when baseball emerged as "America" National Pastime," the sons of Syrian Lebanese immigrants were smitten by the sport too— including a leftie slugger in Port Arthur, Texas, named Bill Anawaty.
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The Dialogues of Don Quixote

The Dialogues of Don Quixote

Amid the fearful turbulence of the 17th century, Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes invented a plot, characters and names that seemed innocently comical, but they cleverly cloaked his insistence that Spain recognize its historical diversity—and Don Quixote became the bestselling novel ever published.

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I Witness History: I, Innocent Asp

I Witness History: I, Innocent Asp

You do not know the real me. The demise of Cleopatra is but one of your many slanders against my kind. Even Shakespeare in Antony and Cleopatra called me a “poor venomous fool.” But let’s examine the facts: I, the Egyptian asp, Naja haje, did not kill the queen.

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Greetings from Cairo, USA

Greetings from Cairo, USA

Westward expansion of the United States in the 19th century coincided with the popularity of all things Egyptian. Beginning in 1808 some 25 villages, towns and cities throughout the country were named Cairo. Of them, Cairo, Illinois, became the largest, although today it is Cairo, Georgia, whose nearly 10,000 residents gives it that title. Five of the “American Cairos” produced picture postcards, mostly during the early 20th century: These included both Cairo, Illinois and Georgia, as well as the Cairos of West Virginia, New York and Nebraska. Today these postcards record what these communities—distinct in geography, economy and history but united by a name—regarded as points of pride.

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Tashkent’s Underground Masterpieces

Tashkent’s Underground Masterpieces

In Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, the subway system offers more than practical travel. Called Toshkent Metropoliteni, or the Metro for short, it also transports passengers on a symbolic journey through Uzbek history. Each of its 29 stations was designed by an individual artist, and together they honor a pantheon of cultural heroes—writers, composers, scientists and more—as well as historic resources such as cotton and almonds. As breathtaking as they are informative, each metro station is a chapter in a story told in tileworks, murals and mosaics amid elegantly thematic lighting and architecture.
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First Look: Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem

First Look: Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem

The contraption felt like a wood-and-metal prototype VR headset, and indeed it was with stereoscopes that 3D imaging was born in the mid-19th century.
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The World’s First Oils

The World’s First Oils

Pressed, extracted or distilled from any of hundreds of plants, pure “essential” oils are not just a rising multibillion-dollar global industry: They are among the world’s oldest organic wellness products, now available almost everywhere.
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The Hidden Treasures of Nubia

The Hidden Treasures of Nubia

To the south of ancient Egypt, there was another civilization, at times a rival, at times a vassal, and always a source for coveted gold: Nubia, which rose to its peak of conquest 2,700 years ago when its king, Piye, sailed an army down the Nile.
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