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Carved ivory polyhedra by Egidius Lobenigk (left) and Georg Wecker from the 16th century, part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden collection in Germany.
Carved ivory polyhedra by Egidius Lobenigk (left) and Georg Wecker from the 16th century, part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden collection in Germany.

A World in Counterfeit

After they mastered their territories, rulers wanted to master crafts, too.

Illustrations depicting smallpox from  the Imperially Commissioned Golden Mirror of Medical Learning, published in 1742.
Illustrations depicting smallpox from the Imperially Commissioned Golden Mirror of Medical Learning, published in 1742.

Empire’s Little Helper

Chinese history shows that where soldiers march, plague follows.

The RTV 31 hovercraft train in Peterborough, England, on Jan. 25.
The RTV 31 hovercraft train in Peterborough, England, on Jan. 25.

A Train to Nowhere

Hovertrains were meant to revolutionize British transport. But they never arrived.

The BT-9 guard tower, part of the 
Berlin Wall exhibit at the Newseum in Washington before its closure in December.
The BT-9 guard tower, part of the Berlin Wall exhibit at the Newseum in Washington before its closure in December.

Why the Berlin Wall Still Matters

Fragments of the wall have become museum pieces. But with the rise of extremist parties in Germany, the debate over the barrier’s legacy is anything but history.

A mace on its way to Britain’s Parliament in 2005.
A mace on its way to Britain’s Parliament in 2005.

The Weapon Britain’s Parliament Can’t Do Without

The mace is a symbol of royal power—and sometimes of lawmakers’ anger.

A wine vessel attributed to the Niobid Painter of Athens.
A wine vessel attributed to the Niobid Painter of Athens.

Pandora’s Vox

Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks anticipated robots and artificial intelligence—and they didn’t trust them.

The Fialka encryption system, part of the collection at the KGB Espionage Museum in New York City.
The Fialka encryption system, part of the collection at the KGB Espionage Museum in New York City.

The Soviets’ Unbreakable Code

The hidden history of the Fialka espionage machine.

The Shanghai News ran from 1950 to 1952. (Jason Hornick for Foreign Policy)
The Shanghai News ran from 1950 to 1952. (Jason Hornick for Foreign Policy)

Last Tango in Shanghai

How the ads in a crumbling newspaper offer glimpses of a vanished world.

This Davy Crockett will be displayed in the National Museum of the United States Army, under construction at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. Army photo)
This Davy Crockett will be displayed in the National Museum of the United States Army, under construction at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. Army photo)

Point and Nuke

Remembering the era of portable atomic bombs.

The Double Pigeon. (Courtesy SFO Museum)
The Double Pigeon. (Courtesy SFO Museum)
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