History


April 13, 2021

These 17th-Century Skull Watches Open Up to Reveal Time as It Passes Us By

Here today, gone tomorrow. This sentiment is key to a philosophy known as memento mori, where one embraces rather than fears death. It was a concept explored heavily in the history of art, from 16th-century still-life paintings to Baroque tomb sculptures. Eventually, it even made its way into timepieces as watches were popularized. Skull cases, which open to expose a watch, were particularly popular from the 17th century onward.

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April 7, 2021

Inhale the Long History of Artfully Designed Perfume Bottles

The history of scent is largely ephemeral. After all, the aromas of pressed lilies from the Nile banks or the precious ambergris, once worth more than gold, are hard to imagine if you've never smelled these rarities. While the scent of these delicate perfume ingredients vanishes with time, countless examples of exquisite perfume bottles and containers remain to remind us of the history of the most-neglected sense.

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March 22, 2021

Meet the Harvard Computers, the Undervalued Women Who Mapped 400,000 Stars

Have you heard of the Harvard Computers? No, not the Apple computers in the iconic Widener Library on Harvard's Cambridge campus. The Harvard Computers were a group of pioneering and under-appreciated women researchers who worked at the Harvard College Observatory in the late 19th and early 20th century. Edward Charles Pickering, the male director of the observatory, began hiring women to crunch numbers in his quest to document all of the stars in the sky.

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