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Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

A thorough explanation

a description of Hnefatafl and other ancient games at Smithsonian Magazine

Dream Catching at the Ends of the Earth in the Name of Art

Dream Catching at the Ends of the Earth in the Name of Art


Some minds are cornucopias; sources of creative ephemera. Such is the case for artists and photographers Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, a dream team bringing fairytales to life for the new millennium.

biology science

Lost villages from centuries ago found in the Amazon rainforest

Even some of the more remote parts of the Amazon rainforest, far from major rivers, were once densely populated – centuries before the arrival of Europeans

biology science

Biggest ever family tree shows when cousins stopped having sex

A family tree of 13 million people has been built using data from an ancestry website, and it reveals when and why people started avoiding marrying close relations

New York’s Oldest Dim Sum Restaurant and the Secrets of Chinatown

New York’s Oldest Dim Sum Restaurant and the Secrets of Chinatown


Secreted away in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown is a small, peculiar street. Whilst most of the city is laid out in a uniform grid system, this tiny, one block long street is unusual in that it has a sharp, angled bend in the middle of it. On a map, it is marked down as Doyers Street, but in old New York parlance, it had a much more chilling name – Bloody Angle.

biology science

Oldest dog burial suggests prehistoric humans loved dogs as pets

A dog that was buried with its owners 14,000 years ago was chronically ill throughout its life, yet its owners repeatedly nursed it back to health – suggesting a deep bond of friendship


Baby skeleton from Alaska reveals origins of Native Americans

DNA from an infant girl who died 11,500 years ago reveals where America’s first human settlers came from and when they arrived

Ancient ruins point to the origins of American state power


The palace overlooking the plaza at El Palenque would have been an incredible sight to people living more than 2,300 years ago in Mexico’s Oaxaca Valley. The area was built up after a fire destroyed another plaza downslope at El Mogote, and everything about El Palenque was grander than El Mogote. An enormous temple complex bounded the plaza’s eastern side. To the north, the palace cascaded down the gentle slope in a series of grand stairways, gorgeously paved platforms covered in smoking braziers, and private state rooms. The king could address his subjects from two airy courtyards facing the plaza. But this ostentatious display of power was less impressive than what the king’s subjects couldn’t see.

What this palace hid behind its fancy colonnades and altars was the elaborate infrastructure of nascent state bureaucracy. Behind the public-facing platforms, stairways and corridors led to over half-a-dozen state rooms. Adjacent to stairs connecting two platforms, archaeologists have recovered the bones of dogs, as if these animals were guarding it. Perhaps that’s because the upper platform served as a throne room where the king met with dignitaries and advisers, sometimes staging a human sacrifice.

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The Odd Political History Behind Brazil’s Favorite Sweet

Get to know the brigadeiro.


Eastern Arabic Numerals

In the U.S., children are taught what we call “Arabic Numerals” (1, 2, 3, 10, 20, 100, etc.) as opposed to “Roman Numerals” (I, II, III, X, XX, C, etc.)

But there are many other types of numeral systems, some still used today. In fact, the number system used in some Arabian countries does not look much like what we call Arabic numbers.

These ‘true’ Arabic numbers are better known as Eastern Arabic Numerals and what we use are really Western Arabic Numerals. Although, to confuse things further, in Arab countries, they refer to Arabic Numerals as “Indian Numerals”

Western Arabic 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eastern Arabic ٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩
Perso-Arabic variant ۰ ۱ ۲ ۳ ۴ ۵ ۶ ۷ ۸ ۹
Urdu variant ۰ ۱ ۲ ۳ ۴ ۵ ۶ ۷ ۸ ۹

And there are many others, most of them originating in south or southeast Asia