When milling about an antique store one lazy afternoon, I came across an assortment of red and blue discs, haphazardly displayed inside a locked curio case. About the size and thickness of a penny, made from fibrous material, and designed to look like currency, I soon learned these tokens—and millions more like them—once served a vitally important role in America’s wartime economy during World War II. Read more
Long before an expansive network of interstates and highways cut across America, a network of trails were formed and traversed by the Cherokee. Like today’s interstate system, the Cherokee trails ran north to south, east to west. The trails were used for trade, hunting, gathering, and to make war against opposing tribes and settlers that wanted their land.
Marking those trails were trail trees—hardwood trees whose trunks were intentionally bent to grow low and parallel to the ground before rising upward again. Like today’s highway signs, researchers believe the Cherokee shaped trees to point to things that their people needed on long and arduous journeys.
Sometimes called “bent trees”, “marker trees”, or “signal trees”, surviving examples are now two hundred years old or more. Many are dying due to disease, weather, urbanization, and age, giving urgency to a project organized to catalog them before they’re lost forever. Read more
As Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in 1620, ongoing archaeological work at the original Pilgrim settlement has unearthed a sweeping array of Native American and early European artifacts. These discoveries, together with primary source accounts written by Pilgrims William Bradford and Edward Winslow, have reshaped our understanding of the “First Thanksgiving”; a three-day feast celebrating the Pilgrims’ first harvest in the New World in 1621. Read more
Portly pumpkins with twisted faces are a sure sign that the Halloween season is upon us. Often referred to as jack-o’-lanterns, these ghoulish-faced pumpkins have quite the backstory.
As we navigate the present circumstances brought about by the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about masks, who wears them, who refuses to, why, and why not. Having been on my mind lately, my thoughts about masks drifted in a different direction, towards Don Diego Vega, better known by his alter-ego, Zorro. Read more
Adolph Hoppe desperately pushed his horse to race faster through the dry and unforgiving underbrush of the Texas Hill Country. With his eyes set on the horizon, towards home, he could feel the bloodthirsty bushwhackers closing in on him.Read more
Richmond, April 1 – Localities in Virginia are closer to having the power to remove Confederate ghosts from public spaces throughout the state.
Acknowledging that change was long overdue, Democrats, who took control of the House and Senate in November 2019, passed two bills on near party-line votes on Tuesday. The bills largely allow cities to “remove, relocate, contextualize, vacate, cover, alter, bury, or trap” Confederate ghosts meandering about public spaces.Read more
Following a ride in blistering cold weather, George Washington awoke at 2 a.m. on December 14, 1799, with a fever, sore throat, and respiratory difficulties. A believer in the healing powers of bloodletting, Washington asked to be bled. After a series of medical procedures, including blisterings, emetics, laxatives, and the draining of nearly 40 percent of his blood, Washington died that evening, of what has been diagnosed retrospectively as epiglottitis and shock.Read more
Most notably collected for their remarkable ornamental form, ammonites, the predatory mollusks that resembled squid, have long captured our fascination.Read more
Clovis points are quite possibly the most coveted point of Native American artifact collectors. Clovis points are the unmistakably-fluted (a leaf like groove emanating from the central base) projectile points associated with the New World Clovis culture of the Early Paleoindian period―which lasted for nearly 1,000 years, from 11,500 to 10,500 years ago. This period is marked by the first human entry into the New World, presumably from Asia via the Bering Land Bridge, and the end of the last Ice Age, 13,500 to 12,800 years ago.Read more