Understanding how we interact with our material world can reveal unparalleled insights into what it is to be human.

Spirit Trumpet, Manchester, 1920s

Ectoplasm, spirit trumpets and paintings from Pompeii: 600 years of Curious Objects

03 Nov 2016

Why does one of the world’s great research libraries have ‘ectoplasm’, a spirit trumpet and beard hair posted to Charles Darwin among its eight...

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Flamenco by Veyis Polat (cropped)

Flamenco: what happens when a grassroots musical genre becomes a marker of culture

18 Aug 2016

What happens when a musical genre becomes an identifier for a region? In his book Flamenco, Regionalism and Musical Heritage in Southern Spain ...

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A Handful of Objects

23 Mar 2016

Five key objects from the world-class collections at Kettle’s Yard have been made available online to view through film, sound, photographs and 360...

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The "empericum that never fails" in the margin of the Compendium of Gilbertus Anglicus.The instructions are for making and applying an amulet for conception.

Remedies for infertility: how performative rituals entered early medical literature

24 Jan 2016

A study of one of the most important medieval texts devoted to women’s medicine has opened a window into the many rituals associated with conception...

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The Magna Carta of scientific maps

01 Aug 2015

One of the most important maps of the UK ever made – described as the ‘Magna Carta of geology’ – is to go on permanent public display in Cambridge...

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Estimated to be worth millions on the open market, the ‘Manual of Calligraphy and Painting’ was made in 1633 by the Ten Bamboo Studio in Nanjing.

Oracle bones and unseen beauty: wonders of priceless Chinese collection now online

22 Jul 2015

A banknote from 1380 that threatens decapitation, a set of 17th-century prints so delicate they had never been opened, and 3000-year-old ‘oracle...

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Would you place a Grand National bet on a Shetland pony?

20 Jul 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, H is for...

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An over-dressed Victorian man looking at the nude Venus de Milo.

How classical sculpture helped to set impossible standards of beauty

18 Jul 2015

What do we mean when we say that someone has ‘classical’ good looks? Are male nudes in art appropriate viewing for family audiences? In looking at...

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Distillation in the 15th century, from Liber de Arte Distillandi de Compositis by Hieronymus Brunschwig

Men in stripes: spot the difference in early modern woodcuts

16 Jul 2015

Sixteenth-century woodcuts often depict young men wearing striped doublets or striped hose. When historian of science Tillmann Taape embarked on a...

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Comparison of embryos of fish, salamander, turtle, chick, pig, cow, rabbit and human embryos at three different stages of development.

Haeckel’s embryos: the images that would not go away

06 Jul 2015

A new book tells, for the first time in full, the extraordinary story of drawings of embryos initially published in 1868. The artist was accused of...

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Folding ‘Trompe l’oeil’ fan, English, c.1750

How we fell in love with shopping

20 Mar 2015

An exhibition of ‘treasured possessions’ from the 15th to the 18th centuries reveals how we first fell in love with shopping, and takes us back to an...

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Encoffining body, Changchun, 1911

Visions of plague

05 Dec 2014

A new research project is compiling the largest database of plague imagery ever amassed, focusing on a pandemic that peaked in the early 20th century...

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