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Quirky History Archives | JSTOR Daily

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Quirky History

When Dancing Plagues Struck Medieval Europe

The tarantella is named for a peasant woman from southern Italy whose tarantula bite started a contagious dancing fever!

When Europeans Feared the Wind

In early modern Europe, various sorts of winds were associated with illness and even death.

Elixirs of Immortal Life Were a Deadly Obsession

Ironically enough.

What Does History Smell Like?

Scholars don't typically pay that much attention to smells, but odors have historically been quite significant.

Our Long Relationship with Leather

A recently-discovered skeleton wearing leather boots inspires a walk through our history of wearing animal hides.

How the Brownie Camera Made Everyone a Photographer

Eastman Kodak used folklore to sell a modern technology, and ended up creating new communities and forms of expressions along the way.

The Landlord Asks for a Christmas Rose

Bizarre customs of landholding—from demands for flowers to ritualized flatulence—reflect the philosophy that developed under the feudal system.

Why Ancient Egyptians Loved Cats So Much

Ancient Egyptians' love of cats developed from an appreciation to their rodent-catching skills to revering them as sacred creatures.

The Tangled History of Weaving with Spider Silk

Spider silk is as strong as steel and as light as a feather, but attempts to industrialize its production have gotten stuck, so to speak.

A Recipe for Flies and Frogs

And other wonders of spontaneous generation.