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Cabinet of Curiosities Archives | JSTOR Daily

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Cabinet of Curiosities

In Cabinet of Curiosities, Amelia Soth guides readers on a magical history tour.

Cabinet of Curiosities

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. Cabinet of Curiosities

A Recipe for Flies and Frogs

And other wonders of spontaneous generation. Cabinet of Curiosities

There’s Someone Buried under the Floor!

The story of a building that will not stand until a living human being is imprisoned in its foundations is so common as to form it own genre. Cabinet of Curiosities

A Book of Divination for the End of the World

The Falnama, or Book of Omens, combined apocalyptic representations from many sources. Say a prayer, ask your question, and flip to a random page. Cabinet of Curiosities

From the Belly of a Goat to the Mouth of a King

Bezoars, a strange lump formed in the belly of a goat, once were considered a panacea, and worth more than their weight in gold. Cabinet of Curiosities

That Time a Woman Rode Aristotle Around Like a Horse

In the Middle Ages, the legend of Aristotle and Phyllis exemplified the “Power of Women” trope. Cabinet of Curiosities

Trial by Combat? Trial by Cake!

The medieval tradition of deciding legal cases by appointing champions to fight to the death endured through 1817, unlike its tastier cousin. Cabinet of Curiosities

The Toadmen, Masters of Equine Magic

A strange initiation ritual involving a toad was required for members of a secret caste of nineteenth-century horse mystics. Cabinet of Curiosities

How to Create a Human Being

The Book of Stones, a central alchemical text, contained formulae with the power to create living tissue from ordinary matter, supposedly. Cabinet of Curiosities

The Medieval Castle That Pranked Its Visitors

At Hesdin, in France, the idyllic beauty of the grounds met the sadistic slapstick of the castle’s “engines of amusement.”