The Early Modern Commons

Res Obscura

Recent Posts

On the Women’s Petition Against Coffee of 1674

8 April 2017

“That Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE.” Imagine a space where you can bet on bear fights, warm your legs by the fire, witness public dissections...

How to Write the History of Science?

3 February 2016

Metallurgist testing a new alloy from New Frontiers in Science (1964), a vintage textbook I bought from a retired science teacher in Austin, TX a few years ago.  Is the history...

The Alchemy of Madness: Understanding a Seventeenth-Century "Brain Scan"

17 December 2015

The image above is a detail from a remarkable 1620 engraving I first came across this past summer. It shows a man sliding another figure into what looks like an old-fashioned oven -...

Why Did Seventeenth-Century Europeans Eat Mummies?

5 December 2015

Brazilian BBQ from Theodor de Bry, America Tertiae Pars (1592). In a previous post, I touched on the phenomenon of "cannibal medicine" in early modern Europe. It turns out that it was...