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Athanasius Kircher, Victim of Pranks (1602-1680)Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) was a Jesuit Scholar and professor of Mathematics at the Roman College in Italy. He was one of the central figures of Baroque scientific culture, and probably the greatest expert on ancient and universal languages, archaeology, astronomy, magnetism, and Chinese and Egyptian culture in Europe at that time. However, he was also reported to be the target of a number of pranks and hoaxes. More→
The Cerne Abbas Giant (circa mid-1640s)The Cerne Abbas Giant is a chalk figure of an enormous naked man wielding a club carved into the side of a hill in Dorchester, England. The giant is one of a number of presumably ancient hill figures that dot the English countryside, such as the Long Man of Wilmington and the White Horse of Uffington. But the Cerne Abbas giant is uniquely distinctive because of the enormous erect phallus that he sports. The giant occupies a treasured place in British culture. He's widely believed to have been carved thousands of years ago. Folklore suggests he's an ancient fertility god, possessing the power to make childless women pregnant. Postcards of him are the only images of a naked man accepted by the British post office. But in recent years historians have suggested that the Giant may date only to the seventeenth-century, since the first written reference to it only dates to 1694. Furthermore, its creation may have been a prank. More→
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