History vs. Myth

You don’t need fiction when history provides you with tales as crazy as the ones we’ve collected for you. Read up while your jaw drops.


Learn More / Page 5

Could Noah's ark really have happened?

Several ancient texts cite the story of Noah, a man who built a giant vessel, filled it with animals and endured a flood. Did this event play out in history?

How did Rasputin really die?

He'd been shot in the back, had no pulse, and yet those piercing green eyes opened wide when his murderers shook his limp body. Why wouldn't the bearded mystic die?

What was in Peter the Great's cabinet of curiosities?

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the most fashionable Europeans gazed upon wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosity. But Peter the Great's collection didn't appeal to those with weak stomachs.

Why was Davy Crockett king of the wild frontier?

Maybe you've sung along with that well-known tune: "Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier." But have you ever wondered how he earned that royal title?

Who won the Cold War?

The annals of history offer many perspectives on the Cold War's victor. Some say the U.S. won; others claim there was no winner. And some assert that the former USSR brought itself down.

Could Jack the Ripper have been an artist?

So much for artists being sensitive -- one Impressionist painter has been fingered as Jack the Ripper. But do the brutalized nudes on his canvases hint at actual murders?

Were the Clovis the first Americans?

It's a hotly debated topic: Who found America first? One theory proposes that it was the Clovis. So will we be replacing Columbus Day with "Clovis Day" on our calendars?

Why did England and Spain fight over an ear?

As far as famous ears go, Van Gogh, Prince Charles and Ross Perot rank near the top of the list. But Robert Jenkins' ear pitted powerful European monarchies against each other in war.

Could treasure hunters have discovered "Nazi Gold"?

During World War II, Nazis plundered gold from occupied countries, hiding it in caves and mines. Will modern treasure hunters finally locate the legendary Reichsbank treasure?

What Was America's First Terrorist Threat?

For centuries, terrorists plundered European and U.S. ships in the Mediterranean. Who were the perpetrators, and how did America put an end to their kidnapping, enslavement and extortion?

Who was the real Count Dracula?

Bram Stoker's Count Dracula was inspired by a 15th-century Romanian prince. If you thought Dracula was scary, you may not want to read any further.

Why do we remember the Alamo?

The expression "remember the Alamo" is probably something you heard in school. But do you really know what this rallying war cry means?

Was a Hungarian countess the world's most prolific serial killer?

Elizabeth Bathory was never convicted of her crimes, but testimonies say she killed and tortured 650 people. Did she really bathe in her victims' blood?

Did the Great Chicago Fire really start with Mrs. O'Leary's cow?

Legend has it that Mrs. O'Leary's cow started the Great Chicago Fire. But is a farm animal really to blame? Find out who else lurks around this crime scene.

What happened to the two other men on Paul Revere's ride?

Did you know that two other men accompanied Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride? Find out who these men were and which one actually made it to Concord.

Was there really a curse on King Tutankhamen's tomb?

Did King Tut put a hex on a group of archaeologists and dignitaries? Or is a mosquito to blame for their mysterious deaths?

How did 168 conquistadors take down the Incan empire?

In less than 200 years, the Inca built an empire stretching 2,500 miles. But a Spanish conquistador and 167 other men brought them down. How did they do it?

Why is Mesopotamia called the cradle of civilization?

The Mesopotamians are said to have given the world irrigation, writing, organized religion, laws and the concept of time. Why were they so advanced? What makes Mesopotamia the cradle of civilization?

Did Nero really play the fiddle while Rome burned?

The Roman emperor Nero is said to have played his fiddle while the city burned and his people suffered. Could he really be that cruel, or is it all just a story?

Were the American colonists drugged during the Salem witchcraft trial?

The Puritans who conducted the witchcraft trials in Salem, Mass., suspected the devil was at work in their society. But could the madness have been caused by drugs?

Did the ancient Greeks get their ideas from the Africans?

Though the ancient Greeks get a lot of credit for building the foundation of today's civilization, many of their ideas came from the Kemites. Who were they, and what did they teach the Greeks?

Are there Nazi war criminals still at large?

A few Nazi leaders escaped justice after World War II. Who are they, and how are people trying to bring them to justice more than 50 years later?

Did Genghis Khan really kill 1,748,000 people in one hour?

Genghis Khan is said to have killed 1,748,000 people in one hour. Did he really do it? And if not, what really happened?

Who was America's first murderer?

The first recorded murder in America was committed by someone who came over on the Mayflower. Who was it, and why did he do it?

Was an Irish monk the first European to reach America?

An Irish monk named St. Brendan may have been the first European to visit the Americas. Although there is no hard evidence to back the claim, written accounts of his voyages, petroglyphs and Viking history suggest St. Brendan may have beaten Columbus