For the wanderers who became the Aztecs history was a chorus of voices | Aeon Essays

The Aztec historians, creators of a genre called the xiuhpohualli (SHOO-po-WA-lee), developed a highly effective way of keeping satisfying memories alive. The pictographic texts that Itzcoatl burned were only a part of the Aztec way of keeping history. The glyphs served as mnemonic devices designed to elicit volumes of speech. The image of smoke billowing [...]

How the geometry of ancient habitats may have influenced human brain evolution | Ars Technica

There's a pivotal scene in the 2012 film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and a company of dwarves are chased by orcs through a classic New Zealand landscape. For Northwestern University neuroscientist and engineer Malcolm MacIver, the scene is an excellent example of the kind of patchy landscape—dotted with trees, bushes, [...]

Putin’s Constitutional Tsarism | by Anastasia Edel | The New York Review of Books

... if history offers any lessons, this attempt at greatness will last no longer than the false covenants and official statues every autocracy erects, for they fail in their fundamental goal: improving the lives of the people. The legacy of Stalin and Lenin is not a socialist empire but the graves of millions, murdered and [...]

Wilson Center Digital Archive

The Digital Archive contains once-secret documents from governments all across the globe, uncovering new sources and providing fresh insights into the history of international relations and diplomacy. The Digital Archive is overseen by the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program and focuses on the interrelated histories of the Cold War, Korea, and Nuclear Proliferation. [...]

Knocking at the gates by Clayton Trutor | The New Criterion

In 410 ad, Alaric I, King of the Visigoths, breached Rome’s walls, likely with the aid of collaborators, and led an army of thousands into the city. Alaric’s sack of Rome was the culmination of a decade’s worth of campaigns against an increasingly unstable western imperial state, which had grown incapable of controlling its hinterlands [...]

History Book Club

Inventing Russia: Russia is a country with no natural borders, no single ethnic group, no true central identity. It has been subject to invasion by outsiders, from Vikings to Hitler’s Germans. In order to forge an identity, it has mythologized its past to unite its people and to signal strength to outsiders. In this fascinating [...]