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A black preacher addressing his mixed congregation on a plantation in South Carolina, c. 1860

The Surprising Religious Diversity of America's 13 Colonies

The story of religion in America’s original 13 colonies often focuses on Puritans, Quakers and other Protestants fleeing persecution in Europe, looking to build a community of like-minded believers. Protestants were indeed in the majority, but the reality was far more diverse. ...read more

Colored etching of Ancient Mesopotamia's city of Babylon with tower and walls, 1790

What Was Life Like in Ancient Babylon?

The ancient Mesopotamian kingdom of Babylon flourished under the reign of Hammurabi, who ruled from 1792 to 1750 B.C.E. What’s remarkable about this period of Babylonian history is that archeologists have recovered tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets that paint a detailed ...read more

An ancient fresco of the Danza Macabra (Dance of the Death) and Trionfo della Morte (Triumph of the Death)

7 Mysterious Mass Illnesses That Defied Explanation

Mass sociogenic illness—also known as mass hysteria, epidemic hysteria or hysterical contagion—occurs when symptoms without a clear medical cause spread among members of a community. “Think of it as the placebo effect in reverse,” says Dr. Robert Bartholomew, an honorary senior ...read more