Solved: The Mystery of an Ancient Maya Massacre

THE BODIES WERE AT THE bottom of a well: 20 people, their hands, feet, and limbs removed, their skeletons cured in layers of clay and limestone. All but two of the victims, an adult man and an 18-month-old child, had been decapitated.* Their bones bore knife marks from the butchery, and burn marks from where they…

The Return of Japan’s Female Sake Brewers

MIHO FUJITA WAS A HIGH-POWERED executive working at a Tokyo toy company. Miho Imada worked in traditional Noh theater. Chizuko Niikawa-Helton was in the fashion industry. But at some point in their careers, all three women had a realization: Their true passion was sake. Since sake is the most iconic alcoholic drink of Japan, these career…

Why an 1875 Map Imagined The U.S. As a Giant Hog

THIS STORY ENDS WITH AN eccentric entrepreneur distributing 2,500 maps of the United States in the shape of a pig to a gala of Civil War veterans. It begins with sewing machines. Grover and Baker sewing machines, to be precise. Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover image: Porcineograph, Library of Congress, Public Domain.

When American Waitresses Were Labeled ‘Women of Ill Repute’

WHEN NELL RETURNED TO THE breakroom, her waitress’ apron was full of money. Her coworkers, spotting the dollar bills, laughed. “Them ain’t tips,” said one waitress. “Them is dates, ain’t they, Nell?” Nell displayed the cash to her friends. “Sure,” she said. “Be thankful for a dollar in these hard times!” Nell wasn’t the only waitress…