The Canada's southern Yukon is an unlikely square mile of sand dunes called the Carcross Desert. It was once the bottom of a large glacial lake, which made the sand. When the glaciers retreated, the lake lost much of its water, and the sandy lake bottom was left behind. Strong winds from nearby Lake Bennett have constantly buffeted the sands making it difficult for plants to become established. So the mini-desert remains un-reclaimed by the northern wilderness. (And if you want to be technical, the "Carcross Desert" is not a desert, because the local climate is too humid to qualify.)
A Zapotec figural ceramic of the Butterfly God found at Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico. 200 - 600 CE.
Scientists and conservators are finally able to return to what was once an Andean war zone. Tierradentro is a cluster of 162 burial chambers hewn from the peaks of four parallel mountains near the Andean town of Inza. They span a few miles of mountainous terrain, with the tomb entrances at the peaks.
These burials were created between 600 and 900 CE, before Spanish colonization, as “homes for the dead” of the ancient society’s elite class. Some are the size of a closet. Others are large, with multiple rooms. And every single burial chamber has beautiful, unique paintings. Read all about archaeologist's recent return to Tierradentro in an Atlas Obscura article
Train travelers wearing masks to avoid catching (or spreading) the deadly Spanish Influenza (1918-1920)
This is a map of Mexico City, showing flight paths planned overhead for a cartographic flyover. Made by Aerofoto in 1936.
Dragon's head with a wind chime dangling from its muzzle. This bronze dragon head would have been fitted over a wooden beam at the corner of a roof, probably of a Buddhist temple or royal residence. It is one of only two known rafter filials from this period. Korea, Goryeo Dynasty, 900s CE.
The Gunditjmara have been building an eel-farming system at the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape for more than 6,000 years. Their aquaculture allowed them to build settled villages in the area, thousands of years before European colonization. Not very different from how prehistoric peoples along the South American west coast relied on seafood to support settlements in the middle of the Atacama Desert. Read more about what wildfires revealed about the Budj Bim here
A Fatimid Caliphate-era ewer carved from a single piece of rock crystal. The Treasure of Caliph Mostansir-Billah at Cairo, which was destroyed in 1062, was said to have contained 1,800 rock crystal vessels. But the ewer you see here is one of only seven (creatively called the Magnificent Seven) known to have survived til today. Circa 1000 - 1050 CE.
This was made in 1627. By hand! Bernini was contracted to create a bust of Maria Barberini Duglioli, niece of Pope Urban VIII, and subcontracted the work to Giuliano Finelli. Finelli chose to focus on the lady's accessories: the intricate lace collar, the flower in her curly hair, her ropes of pearls. When released, the bust was widely hailed as a tour de force. Finelli raised the standard for female portraits and an inspiration for future busts.
Sure, most of us know that Europe became near-uninhabitable. But check out China, which was mainly steppe/tundra! And New Zealand's northern island had a rainforest! What catches your eye?