The Rest Is History

An eighteenth-century power couple, Italian tomb raiders, and a very long walk in 1569.

By Hadley Stack

Friday, August 04, 2017

 Fire, by Louis Félix de La Rue, after François Boucher. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953.

• Bologna in the eighteenth century was a center of science innovation—a reputation it owed in part to the work of Anna Morandi, a pioneer in the study of anatomy. Her husband, Giovanni Manzolini, was an artist and wax sculptor who helped her create life-size models from the cadavers: “Together, the two dissected hundreds of corpses and created hundreds more anatomical wax sculptures. They also pioneered a novel method: Instead of approaching the whole body for dissection and study as other anatomists did, the pair systematically extracted organ systems for further bisection and isolated study. This meticulous method allowed them to create detailed wax models of individual organ systems ideal for teaching students of anatomy.” (Smithsonian)

• How and when did humans first discover fire? (Sapiens)

• The Metropolitan Museum of Art removed a 2,300-year-old krater—a vase used to mix water and wine—from the Greco-Roman galleries: “Today it sits in an evidence room at the district attorney’s office in Manhattan after prosecutors quietly seized the antiquity last week based on evidence that it had been looted by tomb raiders in Italy in the 1970s.” (New York Times)

• Could a seemingly tall tale of three shipwrecked sailors walking from Florida to Nova Scotia in 1569 be true? (Public Domain Review)

• A tech startup puts QR codes on gravestones: “Customers receive a ‘dashtag’—an engraved acrylic plate that can be attached to a headstone. The plate can hold up to three QR codes, which when scanned using a smartphone, will take the user to a webpage or social media memorial to the deceased.” (

• A solar eclipse is coming to the continental United States on August 21. See what eclipse watching has looked like for the past century. (Atlas Obscura)