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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts

Salvator Mundi: the journey of a false saviour

Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries.

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The Masnavi, Book Five

Rumi’s subversive poetry and his sexually explicit stories

Rumi, the thirteenth-century Muslim poet, has become a household name in the last few decades, even becoming the best-selling poet in North America thanks to translations of his work into English. Verses of his poetry are used to begin yoga sessions, religious ceremonies, and weddings, and are ubiquitous throughout social media, in addition to actual […]

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Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra

Zenobia: warrior queen or political tactician?

Popular culture often romanticizes Zenobia of Palmyra as a warrior queen. But the ancient evidence doesn’t support that she fought in battles. Instead, we should remember Zenobia as a skilled political tactician. She became ruler without being dominated by the men of her court.

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The top 10 history blog posts of 2021

Travel back in time to the recent past and explore the OUPblog’s top 10 history blog posts of 2021. From dispelling Euro-centric myths of the Aztec empire to considering humanity’s future through the lens of environmental history, think outside the box with the latest research and expert insights from the Press’s history authors.

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Charlie Brown's America

9 new books to explore our shared cultural history [reading list]

How did the Peanuts gang respond to–and shape–postwar American politics? How has a single game become a cultural touchstone for urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, and Jewish American suburban mothers? Were 19th Century Brits very deeply bored? Cultural and social history bring to life the beliefs, understandings, and motivations of peoples throughout time. Explore these nine books to expand your understanding of who we are.

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Why has Gaza frequently become a battlefield between Hamas and Israel?

During the past decade, the eyes of the world have often been directed toward Gaza. This tiny coastal enclave has received a huge amount of diplomatic attention and international media coverage. The plight of its nearly two million inhabitants has stirred an outpouring of humanitarian concern, generating worldwide protests against the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

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How China spurs global dissent

China’s rulers launched the New Silk Road venture—a trillion-dollar development campaign that is often compared to the Marshall Plan—to promote connectivity across what they believed to be poorly integrated regions of Eurasia and Africa. Much to their surprise, however, they discovered that many of these societies were already wired to the hilt—not by the infrastructure […]

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70 years of Middle Eastern politics, leaders, and conflict [infographic]

Since the end of the Second World War and the founding of Israel in 1948, the Middle East has been a bastion for the world’s economic, political, and religious tensions. From its economic hold on energy consumption to its complicated, generations-long military conflicts and its unfortunate role as a hotbed of terrorism, the volatile politics of the Middle East have had and will continue to have global implications into the future.

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It’s not just decline and fall anymore…

One evening in mid-October 1764 the young Edward Gibbon sat among the ruins of the Capitol at Rome. The prospect before him must have looked like a Piranesi print–bony cattle grazing on thin grass in the shade of shattered marble columns. It was then and there that he resolved to write the history of the decline and fall of Rome.

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Did Muslims forget about the Crusades?

The crusades are so ubiquitous these days that it is hard to imagine anyone ever forgetting them. People play video games like Assassin’s Creed (starring the Templars) and Crusader Kings II in droves, newsfeeds are filled with images of young men marching around in places like Charlottesville holding shields bearing the old crusader slogan “Deus vult” (God wills it!), and every year books about the crusades are published in their dozens, informing readers about the latest developments in crusader studies.

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The strange case of Colonel Cyril Wilson and the Jihadists

The aftermath of the Arab Revolt of 1916-18 and the settlement in the Middle East after the First World War still resonates, world-wide, after a century. It is not only the jihadists of the so-called Islamic State and other groups who rail against the Sykes-Picot Agreement—the secret arrangement between Britain, France, and Russia that carved up much of the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Many moderate Muslims have a rankling feeling of betrayal, being aware that Sykes-Picot contradicted the British promise—albeit a vague one—of a large independent territory for Sherif Hussein of Mecca, the leader of the Arab Revolt, if he would rise up against the Ottomans, Britain’s wartime enemies.

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The hippie trail and the search for enlightenment

The Hippie Trail was one of the last, great expressions of the counterculture during the mid-1950s to late 1970s. Headed to the East, the most celebrated route was from London to Kathmandu, although many stopped in India or went on to Australasia, and there were subsidiary routes to the Mediterranean, to Morocco and to the Middle East.

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