Smithsonian Magazine

Tribal Talk

Immersion schools try to revive and preserve Native American languages.

Teaming Up with Thoreau

One hundred fifty years after the publication of Walden, Henry David Thoreau is helping scientists monitor global warming.

The Long, Sweet Road to Santiago De Compostela

Seeking the tomb of Spain’s patron saint, pilgrims are overwhelmed by kindliness and the beauties of a splendid countryside.

Pay No Attention to the Spies on the 23rd Floor

For years, the KGB secretly spied on visitors to the Hotel Viru in Estonia. A new museum reveals the fascinating time capsule and all the secrets within.

El Mirador, the Lost City of the Maya

Now overgrown by jungle, the ancient site was once the thriving capital of the Maya civilization.

A Century After His Death, Everyone Seems to Love RLS

Partly it is because of his life, bravely lived despite pain; mainly it is the stories, from Treasure Island on, which still disarm us.

The Stubborn Scientist Who Unraveled a Mystery of the Night

Fifty years ago, Eugene Aserinksy discovered rapid eye movement and changed the way we think about sleep and dreaming.

The Legacy

An Englishman looks at India fifty years after British rule.

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The Strange Case of the Surgeon at Crowthorne

In this adaptation from The Professor and the Madman, the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary at long last meets his unlikely collaborator—an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

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Sir Francis Drake Is Still Capable of Kicking Up a Fuss

Westward the corsair of England’s empire made his way, plundering Spain for queen and country; now modern moralists are nibbling at his fame.

Plains Speaking

Lincoln, Nebraska’s big sky and endless farmland gave this New Yorker some fresh perspective.

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A Pilgrim’s Search for Relics of the Once and Future King

Ancient stones and much-loved stories yield both hints and guesses about Arthur and his Camelot.

Glory, Glory

New research may settle a family feud over the origins of an American icon.

Death Trap Defies Treasure Seekers for Two Centuries

Will Triton Alliance make billions of dollars digging up the Money Pit on Oak Island—or will the company invest $10 million in a sinkhole?

The Nature of Cuba

Tiny frogs. Vast swamps. Pristine rivers. Whether by design or default, the island boasts the Caribbean’s best-kept wildlands. But for how long?

On the Trail of Caravaggio

The works of the criminally gifted 16th-century painter are attracting passionate, even cultish, admirers. A pilgrimage through Italy in search of the master turned murderer.

Dresden’s Crowning Glory

Sixty years after it was reduced to rubble by Allied bombing, the reconstructed Baroque Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, once again dominates the historic city’s skyline.

Why Didn’t They Stay?

Exploring the New World a thousand years ago, a Viking woman gave birth to what is likely the first European-American baby. The discovery of the house the family built upon their return to Iceland has scholars rethinking the Norse sagas.

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Living under the Volcano

The experts believe Mount Rainier will give plenty of notice before it erupts again—the problem is that it can kill in other ways.

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The Man Who Turned off the Taps

Prohibition couldn’t have happened without Wayne B. Wheeler, who foisted temperance on a thirsty nation 90 years ago.

The Secret of Dirt

Scientists believe dirt could explain why some of the wealthiest countries suffer from afflictions rarely seen in less-developed nations.

Mapping the Past

In applying cutting-edge technology to geography, a pioneering scholar is changing our perspective of events from Gettysburg to the Holocaust.

Remember the Raisin!

The battle cry of the War of 1812, along with almost everything else about it, has been forgotten for far too long.

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We’re Number 2!

The U.S. vice presidency has been filled by a rogues gallery of mediocrities, criminals and even corpses.