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  • Mermaid Monday: Creepy Mermaid Writes September 11, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Mermaid Monday: Creepy Mermaid Writes

    It is the single most important mermaid sighting of them all, because it is the Babylonian creation myth (or part of the same). Our source is Berossus, a Chaldean historian, writing in the Greek tradition of history: a Herodotus wannabe, in the third century B.C. In one of the surviving fragments of his book (which […]

    Super Swimer Shoots Arrow Down September 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Super Swimer Shoots Arrow Down

    Here is a remarkable feat of arms recorded as a poem on an inscription, put up in AD 118 on the banks of the Danube by a Roman soldier, Soranus. Given that this is a public statement of the feat, we can assume that it actually happened. This is I, once the best known of […]

    Review: A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities August 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Review: A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities

    Anthony Kaldellis, A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from History’s Most Orthodox Empire (OUP 2017) Between about 1880 and 1960 British and American publishers occasionally brought out curiosity books in small print runs by capable people. These books were on delightful but inconsequential subjects: the eccentricities of Chinese court etiquette; descriptions of […]

    Myths of Twentieth-Century History August 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Myths of Twentieth-Century History

    Seven twentieth century myths follow. Any other contributions or angry rebuttals, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Great War: A Disaster Waiting to Happen, 1914 The Great War was going to happen sooner or later because two countries, Germany and France, wanted it. However, the consensus that the Great War would have inevitably led to the ‘breaking […]

    Buried Standing Up July 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Buried Standing Up

    In the rusty old filing cabinet that provides fodder for this blog there is somewhere a file on men being buried upright. However, Beach has failed to find said file for the last three years, so despairing he hands the problem over to his readers. Famous or not so famous people from history who decided […]

    Lost Book on Magical Chameleons May 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Lost Book on Magical Chameleons

    This blog has long championed the lost books of antiquity and the middle ages. But there have been few greater tragedies for the bizarrist, surely, than the disappearance of an early Greek volume entitled On the Power and the Nature of the Chameleon. The chameleon is to be found through large part of the Mediterranean […]

    Greek Hot Air Balloon? May 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Greek Hot Air Balloon?

    This little tale appears in a vaguely sceptical Aulus Gellius, whose Attic Nights provides some very enjoyable reading for those wishing to travel back into the ancient world. that which Archytas the Pythagorean [obit 347 BC] is said to have devised and accomplished ought to seem no less marvellous, but yet not wholly absurd. For […]

    Index Biography #41: Prize a book April 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Index Biography #41: Prize a book

    ***Stephen C got this*** Scroll down for the answer*** The Index Biography is a quiz pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up […]

    Chasing Off Demons in Roman Slovenia April 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Chasing Off Demons in Roman Slovenia

    Beach is coming back to the Battle of the Frigidus in 394, by all means click the link if you need to refresh your memory. As Theodosius is bringing his army up to fight Eugenius’s army something rather strange is described by the historian Rufinus. But the pagans [Eugenius’ army], who are always giving fresh […]

    When God Spoke in a Wind: the Battle of the Frigidus March 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    When God Spoke in a Wind: the Battle of the Frigidus

    The Battle of the Frigidus 394 was one of the most important clashes as the Western Roman Empire was winding down: Honorius, the loss of Britain, Gerontius in Spain all just above the horizon… 5 and 6 September of that year, two enormous armies, perhaps as many as 150,000 men, took to the field under, […]

    The Eternal Mystic March 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Eternal Mystic

    Beach is eternally worried about mystics, people who have or believe that they have paranormal powers. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Most studies of ‘mystics’ put them in a historical tradition. The Cunning Man in the English or, for that matter, New England countryside in the 1700s draws on Christianity, Anglo-Saxon […]

    Earliest Ordeal: Drowning March 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Earliest Ordeal: Drowning

    What is the earliest ordeal in history? Well, there were probably games involving Paleolithic ne’er-do-wells and mammoths, but the earliest recorded ordeal in history? There are some hypotheses about drinking ancient poisons (drugs?), in the near east: though to Beach this sounds more like an execution and it is, in any case, a hypothesis. However, […]

    The Problem with Shamanism March 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    The Problem with Shamanism

    ***dedicated to a misguided friend in Estonia*** All academic disciplines have terminological issues. Medievalists get excited about ‘feudalism’; archaeologists head-butt each other over ‘Celtic’; there are even some linguists who get upset about ‘Indo-European’. These words have been energized and arguments over them are about more than just semantics: disputes are bitter, useful and productive. However, […]

    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland? March 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland?

    It is the most extraordinary inscription. This mill-stone rock, which once stood on the top of Tory Hill in County Kilkenny in Ireland, has been taken as proof of Carthaginian contact and settlement or at least trade with Ireland in antiquity. The words clearly read (give or take some distorted letters) Beli Dinose, a reference to […]

    The Raven Stone Spell February 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Raven Stone Spell

    Location: tradition found in the Germanic regions of Continental Europe and Scandinavia, and also in parts of Britain. Aim: The collection of the raven stone (korp-sten in Scandinavia, Lloyd 1854, 331) that will render the owner invisible, though note that the stone is also credited with bringing luck and curing humans and cattle of diseases: […]

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