Human Obsession with Orchids Goes as Far Back as Roman Times

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The Ara Pacis, an altar erected in Rome by the emperor Augustus in 9 B.C.E., includes one of the earliest documented depictions of an orchid (inset) in Western art. Credit: Bernd Haynold/Wikimedia Commons.

A careful study of ancient artifacts in Italy has pushed back the earliest documented appearance of orchids from the Renaissance to Roman times. The orchid’s popularity in public art seemed to decrease with the advent of Christianity, perhaps because of its associations with sexuality.

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Humans Implicated in Africa’s Deforestation 3,000 Years Ago

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A new study published in the journal Science suggests that humans might have played a significant part in the sudden deforestation of rainforests from Central Africa. This work contradicts the prevailing view that the expansion of farming practices was the root cause as well as the increased incidence of long, severe dry spells.

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The Strange History of the Sunflower

Great article coupled with extremely vivid and beautiful photography about the history of the sunflower. {via presurfer}