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Authors: Here's Why We Think Van Gogh Was Murdered

His wound likely wasn't self-inflicted: outside expert

(Newser) - Back in 2011, a pair of biographers argued that the accepted theory of Vincent Van Gogh's death may have been wrong. He didn't commit suicide, they suggested; instead, it was a local teen who killed him. Their theory was met with some serious pushback, but they stand behind... More »

King-Protecting 'Witchmarks' Uncovered in Home

Though King James I never made it to the Knole estate in Kent

(Newser) - Most old homes bear normal signs of wear and tear. The strange gouge marks beneath the floorboards of "one of Britain's most important historic houses," however, tell a pretty interesting story, the Independent reports: They were intended to guard King James I from witches and other evil... More »

Investigators: We've Got a Piece of Earhart's Plane

And it suggests she never crashed

(Newser) - A team investigating the disappearance of Amelia Earhart is reporting, with "increasing confidence," that it has managed to identify a piece of her plane that was retrieved in 1991. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, says the part in question is a metal patch that... More »

Historian: Shroud of Turin a Medieval Prop

Charles Freeman dug through descriptions, depictions of it

(Newser) - You can add one more name to the list of those claiming the Shroud of Turin dates only to medieval times . According to British historian Charles Freeman, Jesus' supposed burial cloth—believed by many to show his image after crucifixion—is a 14th-century prop that was likely used during an... More »

After 3 Centuries, Scientists Read Burnt Magna Carta

Copies of document to be brought together for first time ever

(Newser) - Almost three centuries ago, one of the world's most important documents was burnt in a fire. That copy of the Magna Carta was unreadable after the 1731 blaze—until now. Scientists have turned to special imaging techniques to read one of the four existing copies of the 1215 document... More »

More Denver Students Walk Out in History Protest

They say school board wants to whitewash America's past

(Newser) - High school students in a big Colorado district walked out for the third straight day today to protest proposed changes to their history curriculum. Today's protests, the largest yet, mean that about half of all high school students in Jefferson County have participated this week, reports the Denver Post... More »

Archaeologists' Puzzle: Where Was Plymouth Colony?

Researchers conducting major dig to find site of original settlement

(Newser) - It's one of the most important sites in the history of the United States—but we still don't know where, exactly, it was. That's why University of Massachusetts archaeologists are digging for signs of the original Plymouth colony, the Boston Globe reports. The borders of today's... More »

Real History Behind Game of Thrones' Epic Duel

Trial by combat really happened in medieval times

(Newser) - The Game of Thrones duel between Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell and Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane might seem like an outlandish fantasy construction. But believe it or not, the scene actually echoes some real-life incidents. Longwood University medieval history professor Steven Isaac breaks down the real events that... More »

'Blowing Smoke Up Your Butt' Was an Actual Procedure

It was used to save drowning people, among other things

(Newser) - These days, if someone's "blowing smoke up your butt," they're (hopefully) not doing it literally; instead, they're offering a hollow compliment. But TodayIFoundOut.com explains that in the 18th century, doctors and rescuers did indeed blow tobacco smoke up patients' rectums using a tube and... More »

Mystery of Confederate Sub Gets Chipped Away

Cleaning process could reveal why it sank

(Newser) - A century and a half after a legendary Confederate submarine mysteriously sank, conservationists in Charleston, SC, are still working to figure out why. Their latest step could be key: Experts yesterday placed the 40-foot HL Hunley in a solution that's 1% sodium hydroxide and 99% water, the Post and ... More »

Sorry, Blood in Gourd Isn't from Louis XVI

Researchers map out genome

(Newser) - A famous gourd was believed to contain the blood of Louis XVI after he was beheaded: It said as much in an inscription, and some research has appeared to confirm it. Now, however, experts have sequenced the blood's genome, and they're saying the opposite, the BBC reports. Their... More »

Tale of Convicts' Famed 1791 Escape Revealed

First-hand account of Australian penal colony escape released in full

(Newser) - Exactly 223 years ago, some of the first British convicts sent to Australia made a daring escape from Britain's penal colony in New South Wales. It has become the stuff of legend, but the tale of what happened on a two-month journey of more than 3,000 miles—in... More »

Maid's Letter Gives New Look at Titanic's Final Moments

Emotional account describes bravery of those who died

(Newser) - An as-yet-unverified letter unveiled by a Reddit user could shed new light on the dark tale of the Titanic. The letter was apparently written by Rose Amelie Icard, the longest-living French survivor of the disaster, in 1955, the Telegraph reports. It offers her personal and harrowing account of the ship'... More »

Why Americans Eat the Same Boring Meat Over and Over

Squirrel, rabbit, venison: It's what's never for dinner

(Newser) - Sure, Americans chow down on about 280 pounds of meat each per year, compared to the 181 pounds in your average developed country. But chances are those 280 pounds come from the same three or four meat-producing animals: Chicken, beef, pork, and maybe a little turkey. While North America has... More »

How WWII Researchers Starved Men in Minnesota

Scientists wanted to see effects of limited food

(Newser) - With those in occupied territories during World War II facing the threat of starvation, American researchers sought to learn more about the effects of limited food—by starving their own subjects. "Will you starve that they be better fed?" asked a volunteer-seeking brochure showing children on its cover. Hundreds... More »

Is Your Beard Racist?

Style's history is pretty tangled, writes Sean Trainor

(Newser) - These days, beards are big, in all senses of the word. But most of those wearing them probably have little idea of their troubled history in the US—one that is inextricably linked with racism and sexism, writes Sean Trainor in the Atlantic . For free black men in the early... More »

Search Begins for Battlefield Lost for Centuries

Battle of Brunanburh helped define English, Scottish identities

(Newser) - Scotland is poised to vote on independence this year—and before it does, researchers are hoping they'll be able to track down the site of a battle at the root of the English-Scottish divide. There are more than 40 sites across Britain where experts have suggested the vicious Battle... More »

Stealth Carbs in Paleo Diet Rotted Ancients' Mouths

Acorns, pine nuts caused pus-filled gums, rotted teeth in Morocco

(Newser) - Ancient hunter-gatherers tended to have fine sets of teeth—at least, serious tooth decay was rare since people mainly munched on meat, tubers, and berries, and laid off the carbs, NPR reports. That's why a study from London's Natural History Museum is surprising—and pretty disgusting. Of the... More »

France Seeks a Rarity: A Woman for Its Pantheon

Only 2 of 73 buried there are female

(Newser) - France's Pantheon, completed in 1790, seeks to honor the country's "great men"—but the powers that be agree that the next great man probably should be a woman. Since the Pantheon's creation, only 73 people have been interred there. Only two of those are women,... More »

2K US Veterans Lobotomized in '40s, '50s

'WSJ' profiles Walter Freeman's medical legacy

(Newser) - In the first detailed account of the Veterans Administration's psychosurgery program, the Wall Street Journal reveals the extent to which lobotomies were used on veterans in the 1940s and '50s, before antipsychotic drugs came on the market and public opinion dipped. Unearthed documents show how one of the... More »

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