Easter Island's Monoliths Made the Crops Grow

WHEN EUROPEANS FIRST REACHED RAPA Nui, or Easter Island, on Easter Day, 1722, they were awed to find around 1,000 imposing stone moai, or monoliths, carved in the shape of human beings. The statues overlooked a barren landscape. While archaeological evidence shows that Rapa Nui was once lushly forested, by the time Europeans reached the island, it had been clear-cut, devastated by human overuseecological change, or a bloody civil war. The population, which had once likely numbered in the tens of thousands, had been reduced to 3,000 at most.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured image: Antonio Sánchez, Unsplash.

How to Orgasm Without Being Touched

Many of us have woken up from a sexy dream, throbbing with excitement. Some of us are even luckier, and can climax from nipple stimulation, or dry humping, or even intense genital-free makeouts. Sex worker, artist, sexologist, and world-famous sex legend Annie Sprinkle details seven types of female orgasm on her website, including some that happen without touch. But when my friend—an everyday, sex-positive lady—told me she could have orgasms without touching herself, I had to learn more.

Read more at The Horizontal. Featured image: Malvestida Magazine, Unsplash.

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 had been scorched to facilitate the removal of muscle and skin. “The person who was carrying this out wanted to destroy the physical entities of the victims as clearly as possible,” says Nicolaus Seefeld, a pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican archaeologist at the University of Bonn.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Cover photo: Iorni/Unsplash.

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 shifts may not seem notable. But besides their talent, something else sets Imada, Fujita, and Niikawa-Helton apart in the sake world: They’re women.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured image: Antonio Prado, Unsplash.

Why Bisexual Women Are at a Higher Risk for Violence

It feels strange to admit this, but when I first read that bisexual women are more vulnerable to sexual and intimate partner violence than people of other orientations, I felt relieved. It wasn’t the butterfly-winged relief of good news. It was the lightness of finally being able to breathe. Or perhaps, of feeling that I still couldn’t breathe, but at least I knew it wasn’t because my lungs were faulty: It was because our culture had never given us enough oxygen.

Read more at Teen Vogue. Featured image: Vero Photoart, Unsplash

Copenhagen Wants You to Forage on Its City Streets

COPENHAGEN IS ABOUT TO BECOME the embodiment of grab-and-go snacking. In a recent vote, the City Council resolved to introduce free, portable, city-wide munchies: public fruit trees. They’ll opt to plant edibles, from blackberry bushes to apple trees, wherever city planning calls for greenery.

For Astrid Aller, a Copenhagen City Councilor from the Socialist People’s Party who helped spearhead the initiative, this interactive urban orchard is a way of connecting residents to their communities. “We think of the city as something that we all own,” she says. “We want all this collectively owned area to be something that people can use and interact with.”

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured image: Johan Mouchet/Unsplash

How to Feed a Megacity Like the Aztecs

WHEN CONQUISTADOR HERNÁN CORTÉS REACHED Tenochtitlan in 1519, he beheld a floating city. The temples and palaces of the Aztec capital gleamed white from an island in the middle of a vast lake, all spread under a searing blue sky. With an estimated population of 200,000, roughly the size of contemporary Paris, the city overflowed with people. Around the metropolis, an archipelago of lush islands emerged from the lake’s glassy surface, overflowing with plants.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured image: The Digital Edition of the Florentine Codex, CC BY 3.0

Tour Honolulu’s Japanese Food Scene With This 1906 Map

WE DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT Takei Nekketsu. The proprietor of a dry-goods store, he was one of the many small business owners who made up the thriving Japanese community of early 20th-century Honolulu. But Nekketsu had a number of special talents. He wrote some of the earliest Japanese-language histories of Hawai’i, and he made maps.

One map in particular, from 1906, shows his skill. Census records don’t tell us if Nekketsu had formal cartography training, but the map’s precisely labelled lines, crisp angles, and delicate calligraphy reveal a practiced hand. And the contents of the map reveal a practiced palate.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured Image: The Huntington Library, Public Domain.

A Pirate Botanist Helped Bring Hot Chocolate to England

IF YOU HAD MET HIM the year his famous book was published, you might have mistaken William Hughes for a mild-mannered gardener. By that time, he had settled into his role at the country estate of the Viscountess Conway, a noblewoman and philosopher, and had published a book on grapevines. But the old man was more than a tottering plant enthusiast. When his treatise on New World botany, The American Physitian, dropped in 1672, its contents revealed a swashbuckling history.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Featured image: World Digital Library.