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Palmyra; theatre exterior from south. Date of photograph: 1977. Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom.

Palmyra; theatre exterior from south. Date of photograph: 1977. Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom.

Photographs released by the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have confirmed the destruction of the ancient Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria. Until now, the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, contained remarkably well-preserved structures built by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. The news of the Temple’s destruction was preceded by the horrifying news that Khaled Asaad, the 83-year-old chief of the city’s antiquities department, was publicly beheaded. While the seemingly endless loss of lives must be our primary concern, the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin is shocking for its attempt to erase Syria and the region’s rich, multicultural history. The New York Times quoted Irina Bokova, the director general of UNESCO, saying “The art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, is a symbol of the complexity and wealth of the Syrian identity and history. Extremists seek to destroy this diversity and richness, and I call on the international community to stand united against this persistent cultural cleansing.”

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Georges Lepape (illustrator); Paul Poiret (costume designer), "Les Jardins de Versailles - Costume de Paul Poiret dans le goût Louis XIV", 1913. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Lepape: © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, Poiret: © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Georges Lepape (illustrator); Paul Poiret (costume designer), “Les Jardins de Versailles – Costume de Paul Poiret dans le goût Louis XIV”, 1913. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Lepape: © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, Poiret: © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

A poorly taken photograph of a dress and the simple question “what color is it?” spread all over social media and was picked up by several news outlets. Some people in our office saw black and blue, others white and gold, but we all agreed—enough is enough with #thatdress! The Artstor Digital Library offers you thousands of more interesting dresses from collections like Museum at FIT, Gazette du Bon Ton (Minneapolis College of Art and Design), The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes.

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Paul-Émile Bécat, André  Gide,  1919, La Bibliothèque de l'INHA-collections Jacques Doucet. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

Paul-Émile Bécat, André Gide, 1919, La Bibliothèque de l’INHA-collections Jacques Doucet. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

This year’s Nobel Prize winners in literature are set to be announced next week. Despite there being no public information about the candidates–the list is kept secret for fifty years after each award–U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes has been busy taking bets.

While we’re as much in the dark as to who will win as anyone else, we can offer a list of all the previous winners, along with links to dozens of their portraits (or, in the case of Thomas Mann, to a photo of his hands) in the Artstor Digital Library.

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Katsushika Hokusai, Soccer, early 19th century, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin State Museums. Image and original data provided by Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz bpkgate.picturemaxx.com

Katsushika Hokusai, Soccer, early 19th century, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin State Museums. Image and original data provided by Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz
bpkgate.picturemaxx.com

By all accounts, Americans are becoming enthusiastic about soccer in unprecedented numbers. Rumor even has it that a handful of Artstor employees may have sneaked into a conference room yesterday to watch the US team confront Germany (though, when asked about the story, everyone seemed too busy with work to comment).

Of course, the game has long been popular around the world, as you can see from this slideshow of images ranging from the 17th to the 20th century, and from countries including Italy, France, Japan, Ghana, and yes, the United States.

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Byron Company | Madison Square |1896 | Museum of the City of New York | mcny.org

Byron Company | Madison Square |1896 | Museum of the City of New York | mcny.org

In an unusual event, temperatures dropped below freezing in all 50 states Tuesday after a polar vortex swept southwards. As NBC New York explains, “The polar vortex forms every year to the north, but large blocks of high pressure over Greenland and the Southwest weakened the jet stream in recent days, allowing part of the polar vortex to break off from a parent system and dip in to the US.”

While the worst of it is over, we highly recommend you stay indoors and just look at winter images:

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Unknown, French | Comet | ca. 1900 | San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Unknown, French | Comet | ca. 1900 | San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Debris from a meteor streaked through the sky in western Siberia early this morning, causing a boom that damaged a large number of buildings, mainly in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Some 1,000 people were reportedly hurt, mostly as a result of glass shattering when the meteor entered the atmosphere.

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Félix Vallotton | The sick patient (Helene Chatenay), 1892 | Samuel Josefowitz Collection, Lausanne| Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com

Félix Vallotton | The sick patient (Helene Chatenay), 1892 | Samuel Josefowitz Collection, Lausanne| Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
artres.com

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that though the influenza epidemic that has recently been ravaging the United States has waned in recent weeks, flu activity remains high and may continue for some time. You can watch a great documentary about the flu epidemic of 1918 on the PBS website, and find out how to protect yourself here.

This image of a patient in bed by Félix Vallotton comes to us from the Art, Archaeology, and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives) collection. View the painting in the ARTstor Digital Library, and be sure to zoom in to see the masterful way the painter depicts the medicine bottles on the table.

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