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The Double-headed eagle is a state symbol of the Holy Roman Empire, symbolizing its continuation of the Roman imperial tradition. This hand-colored woodcut depicts the eagle among various states that made up the Empire at the time of the woodcut's creation, in 1510. Through its important symbology in Roman heraldry, the eagle came to occupy an important position in European coat of arms, and still does today, most prominently as the Coat of arms of Russia.
A photo of the Great Sphinx of Giza, partially excavated, from the late 19th century. The sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. Constructed in the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt during the reign of Khafra, it is the largest monolith statue and monumental sculpture in the world. Despite its prominence, very little is known about the statue; it is not even known what it was originally called, as no references survive in known Egyptian sources, sphinx being the name of a similar classical Greek creature.
The Trinity nuclear test was the first nuclear detonation in the world. Conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, the successful test would set the stage for the coming Atomic Age. This image, captured by Berlyn Brixner, shows the fireball that developed 0.016 seconds after ignition; the explosive had a yield of 20 kilotons of dynamite.
Painting depicting the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention of the Anti-Slavery Society, in Exeter Hall. This was the meeting of the second Anti-Slavery Society, a British organization that was committed to worldwide abolition (the first, focused on English abolition, had dissolved after the Slavery Abolition Act 1833). Many of the leading reformers of the day are depicted here, and the organization persists today.
Japanese samurai, circa 1860. Followers of the bushido code of conduct and wielding the sharpest swords in the world (katanas), samurais were Japan's equivalent of European knights for hundreds of years. Samurai were more or less abolished in favor of a Western-style army in 1873, but their importance in Japanese history persists in the country's culture, even today.
A 1863 meeting between Maoris and settlers in Hawke's Bay Province, New Zealand. This was during the Invasion of the Waikato, and, although the Maoris and settlers in this region had always gotten along fairly well, the situation grew somewhat tense, and so this meeting was held to allow them to talk things over, and resulted in a reaffirmation of friendship and peace between the groups.
The Khoikhoi were a historical group of Khoisan people, native to southwest Africa. The Khokhois had settled the region in the 5th century AD, and when Europeans first arrived there in 1652, they were still practicing traditional pastoral agriculture. Here, they are dismantling their huts in preparation for moving to more fertile grazing grounds.
A diagram of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, a legendary zoophyte believed to grow sheep as fruit. It held currency in medieval times; noting the similarity between sheep's wool and the mysterious Central Asian product, and knowing it grew on a plant, many Europeans came to believe that it was taken from a sheep grown on a plant, to which it was attached by an umbilical cord. See also Dürer's Rhinoceros.
Jews captured by SS and SD troops during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising are forced to leave their shelter and march to the Umschlagplatz, for deportation, at gunpoint. Taken by Jürgen Stroop, this photograph is one of the most famous of World War II; the boy's identity is unknown, but he may be Tsvi C. Nussbaum, who survived the war.
The Montgolfier brothers' balloon, 75 feet tall and 50 feet wide, was the first balloon to carry human passengers in 1783. This etching from 1786 depicts the historical flight with engineering properties and a description of its elaborate design.
Buzz Aldrin's footprint, taken by himself on Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, on July 20, 1969. The print was part of an experiment to test the properties of the lunar regolith, but today it is known for being one of the most iconic things left on the moon by humans.
A Chola dynasty sculpture depicting Shiva. In Hinduism, Shiva is the deity of destruction and one of the most important gods; in this sculpture he is dancing as Nataraja, the divine dancer who unravels the world in preparation for it being remade by Brahma.
The Nefertiti Bust is one of the most famous pieces of ancient Egyptian artwork in the world. Nefertiti was the Great Royal Wife of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten; her bust, attributed to the sculptor Thutmose, was one of the most copied works on ancient Egypt, and is notable for exemplifying the understanding ancient Egyptians had regarding realistic facial proportions.
An attack on Beijing Castle during the Boxer Rebellion, September 1900. The Boxer Rebellion was a nationalist movement by "Righteous Harmony Society" against European and Christian influence; it failed, and China was forced to pay an incremental reprimand of 67 million pounds to the European countries that put it down.