The Phaistos Disk of Minoan Crete

Like other artifacts that defy deciphering, this clay disk, found on Crete in the early 1900s, has puzzled researchers and stirred up controversy for decades. Is it a religious incantation, a calendar, a spell? Or is it all a pictogram hoax?

Dahomey and the Royal Palaces of Abomey

The Royal Palaces of Abomey are a series of earthen palaces in what is now Benin. The complex is culturally and historically important to West Africa, but the source of much of the wealth that built those palaces was the Atlantic slave trade. Read the show notes here.


Hokusai lived during a time when there wasn't a lot of contact between Japan and the West. But even so, he drew influence form Western art, and Western art was greatly influenced by his own work.

Two Other Alcotts: Bronson and May

Louisa was not the only notable Alcott. Her father, Bronson Alcott, made a name for himself as a philosopher and a teacher. And her youngest sister, May Alcott, was an artist, who was really growing in prominence before she died at an early age.

Artemisia Gentileschi

She's often called the greatest female painter of the Baroque period, though there were only a few to compare her to. Her work is extraordinary, and reflects the influences of her father Orazio Gentileschi and Caravaggio.

Antoni Gaudi, Part 2

Once Gaudi's work was displayed at the 1878 Paris World's Fair, his career took off. Through his connections to industrialist Eusebi G├╝ell and architect Joan Martorell, Gaudi was given opportunities to work on impressive projects that are now his legacy.

Antoni Gaudi, Part 1

You probably know Gaudi's work, even if you don't recognize his name. His distinctive architecture is featured throughout Barcelona. But his life started humbly, as the son of a Reus coppersmith.

Voynich Manuscript Update

Our ongoing update series covers a more recent topic: Even though our Voynich Manuscript episode was just a little more than a year ago, the inscrutable book has been in the news a lot since then. What are the latest theories? Read the show notes here.

Gardner Museum Art Heist Update

Just about a year ago, the FBI informed the press about new developments in the case of the massive art theft in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum that took place on March 18, 1990. We'll cover the updates, then hear the original episode on the theft. Read the show notes here.

The Voynich manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, who acquired it in 1912 from a Jesuit library. There are many theories as to what this book from the 1400s contains, but no one knows whether it's a cypher text, a lost language or gibberish.