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  • The Campestres, Romano-British Fairies? April 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Campestres, Romano-British Fairies?

    Fairies appear in nineteenth-century folklore collections, seventeenth-century spells, sixteenth-century plays, tenth-century charms and (at least in Ireland) early medieval tales. How wonderful it would be to drag the evidence back into the Roman period and beyond for our native fauns. One strategy for doing so has been to turn to Romano-British inscriptions which may (just […]

    Pheidippides: The Greek Who Met A God April 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides: The Greek Who Met A God

    Pheidippides enters the history book because he could run fast and far, and because in 490 BC, with angry Persian immortals just outside their walls, the Athenians decided that they needed help. They looked for assistance in the most violent of all Greek polis, the Spartans to the south. Sparta, though, stood 150 miles from Athens […]

    Book Eating in the Bible April 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Book Eating in the Bible

      ***Dedicated to KMH who came up with this link*** A recent post looked at Bible sandwiches, the idea of eating the Bible to cure yourself from ills or poison. The average reader might raise their eyebrows and wonder what the scriptural basis for that is. This was Beach’s residual-protestant reaction but, then, to his shock, […]

    Pheidippides and the Myth of the Marathon April 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides and the Myth of the Marathon

    Pheidippides is a bit player in history. A fifth-century Greek who allegedly ran the original marathon. First, though some background to help situate one of the fastest men in the ancient world. In 490, perhaps in early September, Athens found itself in trouble. The Persian Emperor, Darius, resented the fact that Athens had helped the Ionian city states […]

    The Oldest Phrase in the World March 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Oldest Phrase in the World

    Sentences are passed from mouth to mouth down through the ages: some of these that are both reckoned wisdom and that attain a particularly attractive form remain with us. A simple question now: what is the oldest sentence in continual use? First, some ground rules. The sentences in question cannot be overly general. For example, […]

    Jacob of Edessa’s America March 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Jacob of Edessa's America

    Many readers of Beachcombing will know Beach’s fellow bizarrist, Esoterx, who writes fascinating posts about ancient, medieval and modern history and in Beach’s humble opinion has the best and wittiest headlines on the internet: a recent discussion of Hellenic religion was called, for example, ‘Muppet Theology’. Often Beach knows Esoterx’s sources, as the two share […]

    Immortal Meals #21: The Fish That Killed An Emperor March 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals #21: The Fish That Killed An Emperor

    ***thanks to Tacitus from Detritus for sending this one in*** Symmachus and the far more famous Boethius were Roman nobles after the end of the Roman empire, an uncomfortable time to be ‘senators’. Boethius fell into disgrace with the emperor Theoderic: he essentially got into trouble for defending, in the law courts, an enemy of Theoderic. […]

    A Roman Coin in the Congo! February 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Roman Coin in the Congo!

    Roman coins turn up in the wildest places: Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Iceland… But who would have ever guessed the discovery of a Roman coin in sub-equatorial western Africa? The reference was first given Italian Rivista of Numismatica (vi, 1893, 45). However, the passage quoted here is a digest from Mouvement Géographique (26 Nov 1893): En […]

    Goodbye Constantinople February 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Goodbye Constantinople

      ***Some might like to listen to the very topical Strange History theme song while reading this, thanks to Chris S for the tip*** The night of 28 May 1453 the Emperor of Byzantine, Constantine, ‘the eleventh of his name’, went for a ride with his friend, George Sphrantzes, on the city walls of Constantinople, […]

    The Rhino’s Horn and Memory February 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Rhino's Horn and Memory

    Every so often Beach gets a post from a reader that practically writes itself and the extent of this blogger’s work is the cut and paste button. Here is one such example that goes in the well established oral transmission tag.  The correspondent and author was Indranil. Can any reader help out Indranil and his […]

    Struell Wells, Ireland: Pagan Customs in the Modern Age? January 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Struell Wells, Ireland: Pagan Customs in the Modern Age?

    Exciting article by Finbar McCormick from 2009, one that somehow passed Beach by, ‘Struell Wells’, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (2009), 45-62. FM begins with a careful description of a nineteenth-century Irish water shrine, the Struell Wells (Downpatrick). This shrine is credited through St Patrick with the power of curing. Crowds would […]

    The Prisoner in the Temple: the Bloodiest Lie January 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Prisoner in the Temple: the Bloodiest Lie

    Beach has previously looked at ‘the gong of the world’, the desert boy Apion, who while still brushing sand from his hair, decided to insult the Jews of Alexandria and, indeed, the Jews of the entire Mediterranean. We do not have Apion’s anti-semitic work, the classical equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: […]

    Burning Library: Apion’s Writings January 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Library: Apion's Writings

    Beach has sometimes in the past celebrated burning libraries, books (and for the multimedia age films) which we know once existed but that have long since disappeared into the dusty maws of time. An impressive burning library author to add to the growing file is Apion Plistonices, impressive because Apion managed to lose not a […]

    A Monkey in the Late Roman Army December 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Monkey in the Late Roman Army

    Do you remember the ape buried in Iron Age Ireland? Well, here is a cousin, who also travelled far from home. In 2001 a monkey, a macaque, in fact, was dug up at Iulia Libica (Llívia), a late Roman settlement in the Pyrenees. He was, at death, 78 cms tall: a young male. It goes without […]

    Roman Coins in Iceland December 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Coins in Iceland

    Roman coins have been found within and without the Empire. Denarii and solidii turn up in Scandinavia, Free Germany, Ceylon, Mainland India and Ethiopia, there is even one fascinating outlier in Madagascar (another post, another day). These coins will have arrived in two separate ways. Some will have been brought by Roman traders and some […]

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