Machine learning and big data are unlocking Europe’s archives

From wars to weddings, Europe’s history is stored in billions of archival pages across the continent. While many archives try to make their documents public, finding information in them remains a low-tech affair. Simple page scans do not offer the metadata such as dates, names, locations that often interest researchers. Copying this information for later … Read more

Plants and sensors are being used to help Bologna locals rediscover their city

Reusing historical buildings for new purposes - an urban planning approach known as adaptive reuse - is breathing new life into cities like Bologna. Image credit - Flickr/ Yuri Virovets, licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Richard Kemeny Lining rundown historic areas of cities with plant life and smart sensors and reusing old buildings for new purposes are helping to breathe new life into Europe’s decaying urban spaces. Historic buildings and places, known as a city’s cultural heritage, can attract tourists and provide a shared sense of history for residents. … Read more

Island cores unravel mysteries of ancient Maltese civilisation

The Ġgantija temples of Malta are among the earliest free-standing buildings known. Image credit - Bs0u10e01, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The mysteries of an ancient civilisation that survived for more than a millennium on the island of Malta – and then collapsed within two generations – have been unravelled by archaeologists who analysed pollen buried deep within the earth and ancient DNA from skulls and bones. It’s part of a field of work that is … Read more

The internet is helping to revive minority languages

Image credit - CC0

Europe’s minority languages have been squeezed by nation-building, urbanisation and the ‘lingua francas’ of the internet, according to Professor Anneli Sarhimaa, specialist in Northern European and Baltic languages and cultures at the University of Mainz, Germany. But one lesson she has learned from researching the fate of the Finnic language Karelian, spoken in Finland and north-western Russia, … Read more

New clues unearthed about mammals’ rapid evolution after dinosaur extinction

The extinction of the dinosaurs paved the way for today's mammalian diversity.

It was a life-altering event. Around 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, an asteroid struck the Earth, triggering a mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs and some 75% of all species. Somehow mammals survived, thrived, and became dominant across the planet. Now we have new clues about how that … Read more

Confronting cultural history leads to stronger European identity

The 'Fraternal Kiss' mural, by Soviet artist Dmitri Vrubel, emblematic of the Cold War, appeared on the Berlin East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall, 1990.

by Ethan Bilby The act of confronting a troublesome past can be challenging by itself, and the Germans even have a word for it – Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Roughly one-third of current EU Member States spent decades behind the Iron Curtain, and many experienced one-party government for decades, but researchers see confronting uncomfortable history as part of a new … Read more