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October 18, 2018

A guide to Medieval creepy crawlers

…and how to protect yourself from them

While there were a lot of delightful beliefs about animals in the Middle Ages (our favorite: hedgehogs roll on grapes to spear them on their spines so they can take them home to their young), this Halloween season we’re focusing on the creepiest creatures of all: reptiles! Not to worry, we’ll also tell you what to do to stay safe from them.

Our source for this guide is Richard Barber’s translation of the Bodleian Library’s MS Bodley 764, a mid-thirteenth century bestiary, so don’t be too surprised if the descriptions deviate just a tad from contemporary herpetology.


Bestiary. Folio #: fol. 160r, 12th century. Image and original data provided by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Let’s start with plain old snakes. We bet you didn’t know that snakes are frightened by naked men, but attack clothed ones. Unfortunately our source doesn’t specify how snakes respond to women (the thirteenth century not being the most progressive of centuries), so your best bet is to keep a stag nearby, as they can handily deal with bothersome serpents.

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October 17, 2018

The strange fates of pillaged mummies


Mummy of Ukhhotep, Egypt. Detail. c.1981-1802 B.C.E. Wood, cartonnage, paint, linen, human remains, obsidian, gold, alabaster. Image and data provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In an 1898 article for Scientific American, a chemist describes his process for working with a powdered material that smelled of myrrh and meat extract:

On heating the powder turns dark brown black, with a pleasant, resin-like odor of incense and myrrh, then throws out vapors with an odor of asphaltum; it leaves a black glossy coal which leaves behind when burnt 17 percent of ash with a strongly alkaline reaction, evolving plenty of carbonic acid when sprinkled with acids. In the closed tube vapors of acid reaction are obtained. With hot water a yellow brown solution of neutral reaction is obtained which smells like glue and extract of meat when inspissated…”

The powder in question was in fact the ground desiccated corpse of an ancient Egyptian, heated for the purpose of creating commercially-produced oil paint. Shocked? Let us treat you to a short history of the many strange fates of pillaged mummies between the sixteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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September 27, 2018

On this day: the book that led to the creation of the EPA


Chatham University, Rachel Carson in the Pennsylvania College for Women Yearbook, The Pennsylvanian, 1928. Image and data courtesy the Collection on Rachel Carson, Chatham University Archives & Special Collections.

On this day in 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published, bringing widespread attention to environmental issues caused by the use of synthetic pesticides in the United States. The book sparked controversy, particularly from chemical companies that dismissed Silent Spring’s assertions about the connection between pesticides and ecological health. However, Carson’s claims were borne out and the book is widely credited with sparking the modern environmental movement that eventually spawned the Environmental Protection Agency.

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September 18, 2018

Divine creation: tracing the rise of Tibetan Buddhism through art

Himachal Pradesh, Lahaul-Spiti, Dankhar Gompa, India. Offering table in front of second Buddha. c. late 17th - 18th century. Detail from mural painting (east corner, south wall) in sNa ka mTshang Hall. Image and data provided by Rob Linrothe.

Himachal Pradesh, Lahaul-Spiti, Dankhar Gompa, India. Offering table in front of second Buddha. c. late 17th – 18th century. Detail from mural painting (east corner, south wall) in sNa ka mTshang Hall. Image and data provided by Rob Linrothe.

An additional contribution of nearly 1,000 images has been made to the Rob Linrothe: Tibetan and Buddhist Art collection in the Artstor Digital Library, bringing the total to over 5,000.* Scholar/photographer Linrothe has provided this unique resource in collaboration with the Lucy Scribner Library, Skidmore College and Northwestern University.

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September 14, 2018

Artstor across disciplines: images for the humanities and social sciences

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Artstor’s global collections span time and cultures and provide a wonderful resource for teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. Our “Artstor Across Disciplines” LibGuide outlines how Artstor’s collections can be used in over 20 disciplines, including American studies, religious studies, the history of medicine, women’s studies, and more.

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September 12, 2018

Fake news: the drowning of Hippolyte Bayard

Hippolyte Bayard, Self Portrait as a Drowned Man, 1840. Data from University of California, San Diego.
Hippolyte Bayard, Self Portrait as a Drowned Man (verso), 1840. Data from University of California, San Diego.

In a grainy 1840 photograph, a partially-covered corpse is propped against a wall, its decay evident in the darkening skin of the face and hands. The body is that of Hippolyte Bayard, an early inventor of photographic processes and supposed drowning victim, and written on the image verso is a strange note:

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September 10, 2018

Photographer Erich Lessing dies


Funeral of a Patron, 1st century CE, Musée du Louvre. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Renowned photojournalist Erich Lessing passed away on August 29th in Vienna, Austria at the age of 95.

A member of Magnum Photos and a former Associated Press photographer, he began his career photographing political events before switching his focus to cultural subjects.

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August 27, 2018

How do you browse millions of images?

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With nearly 2.5 million images making up 300 collections in Artstor–plus hundreds more public collections–where does one begin browsing in Artstor?

Browsing images may not seem like the best way to find an image, especially if you are looking for something specific. However, browsing allows you to serendipitously discover images you might not find with a more focused search. Next time you’re working in Artstor, try some of these techniques and see what you discover:

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August 22, 2018

Register for an Artstor user account

Maybe you’ve been searching and viewing images in Artstor, and even downloaded images from public collections, but you’d like to do more. Register for an account and you can–it’s easy!

Here’s what you get when you sign up

Registered users at subscribing institutions can download images from Artstor’s core collections of 2.5+ million images, save and organize these images into groups, export them to fully captioned PowerPoint presentations, and share the groups with students or collaborators.

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