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  • Roman Vampires? May 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Roman Vampires?

    Vampires in antiquity? Certainly, a creature that appears in Philostratus’ third-century Life of Apollonius of Tyana is reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s best or at least some of the 1970s Hammer House cast-offs. Philostratus tells us of Menippus a young, twenty-five year old philosopher ‘so beautifully proportioned that in appearance he resembled a fine and gentlemanly […]

    The Saint Who Became A Cat May 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Saint Who Became A Cat

    Beachcombing has previously looked at St Christopher a dog-headed saint. But what about St Agatha who can turn into a cat? First a little background. Agatha was a martyr saint from Catania, Sicily whose five-day festival each year in early February remains one of the highlights of civic life in the city and whose climax […]

    Julian in the Desert May 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Julian in the Desert

    Beachcombing finished his last exam yesterday and, with the exceptions of the long and frankly tedious work of correction, term is now all but over. Hurrah! Hurrah! By way of celebration Beachcombing thought that he would visit this morning one of his favourite hinge moments. The death of Julian the Apostate and with him the […]

    Sink or Swim: Infanticide and ‘Baptism’ on the Ancient Rhine April 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Sink or Swim: Infanticide and 'Baptism' on the Ancient Rhine

    Portentous day in the Beachcombing household as Tiny Miss B, the new arrival, was baptised with a select group of friends and in-laws looking on. Unlike Little Miss B – a chip off the Beachcombing block, who screamed her way through her welcoming into the church – the younger Beachcombing, who takes, instead, after her […]

    Vedic History and the Myth of the Golden Age April 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Prehistoric
    Vedic History and the Myth of the Golden Age

    Every so often when Beachcombing writes a post, pastes a text in, finds an inane photograph and presses ‘publish’ there comes the click. It is a noise that means he has just stepped on a pressure bomb and that his next step is going to lead to dissolution: or, in blogging terms, thirty furious emails […]

    Woolly Mammoths among the Pharoahs? April 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Woolly Mammoths among the Pharoahs?

      **This post is dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk who put Beachcombing onto it** Beachcombing has long wondered if the publishing world would not have room for a volume on long-travelled exotic animals in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: giraffes turning up in Renaissance Italy; polar bears being brought down to the medieval Arabs; […]

    First Unicorns? April 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    First Unicorns?

    Beachcombing is returning with some relief to familiar territory after the Shakespeare wars of the last couple of days. The subject: unicorns and the earliest human accounts of these mysterious creatures. In the Indus Valley about 3000 BC a series of seals were created that portray an animal with one horn: they predate the mention […]

    Review: Shadow Pasts April 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Shadow Pasts

    Beachcombing has only a few minutes today before class begins – a spring cold has meant that he is sleeping double his regulation five or six hours. But he wants to take what little time he has to celebrate William Rubinstein’s Shadow Pasts: ‘Amateur Historians’ and History’s Mysteries (2007), a gem of a book he […]

    Eden in the Persian Gulf March 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    Eden in the Persian Gulf

    Beachcombing finds himself on the train hurtling through the early morning. He cannot then do the necessary research into an unusual theory he just ran across, though he throws it out there for anyone who might be interested or opinionated. The theory is described by Colin Tudge in Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers (1998) (p. 37) – […]

    Frederick to Saladin: Roman Fantasies March 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Frederick to Saladin: Roman Fantasies

      Politics is supposedly the art of the possible, but, in medieval times,  politics was more often the art of the barely believable. Beachcombing has long loved the particularly incredible tones that the Middle Ages throw up and had a particularly pleasant memory – recently refreshed by Ostrich – of a letter exchange between Frederick I and Saladin  around […]

    Mass Hysteria and Ancient Theatre March 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Mass Hysteria and Ancient Theatre

    Another birthday party visit for Little Miss B this afternoon: birthday parties are rapidly becoming, along with potty training, bad Disney and the satanic Little Miss Kitty, the worst things about parenthood. Beachcombing is forced, in any case, to limit himself to a quick post on Lucian of Samosota today. Now, to get down to […]

    The Problem of Pygmy Fairies March 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    The Problem of Pygmy Fairies

    Beachcombing has been having a bit of a fairy phase recently, played out in his evening readings after he’s put little Miss B to bed. And he has particularly been interested at the different explanations that our ancestors – distant and recent – offered to explain the fact that ‘little folk’ lived in the cairn […]

    Iambulus’s Island March 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Iambulus's Island

    **Beachcombing dedicates this post to author and Diodorus scholar Ed Murphy (After the Funeral) who inspired the following** Ancient historian, Diodorus Siculus (obit 1st cent BC) has appeared before on this blog for his description of a mysterious island out in the Atlantic. However, Diodorus, at the end of his second book, also wrote about an […]

    Queen Victoria Drinks Blood from a Skull in Tibet March 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Queen Victoria Drinks Blood from a Skull in Tibet

    Leaders who think that they are gods are par for the course: the ancient Egyptians, the Persians, the medieval Japanese, Idi Amin… The insidious eastern idea of divine rulers even leapfrogged the Levant and seeped into Greece and Rome in antiquity. Alexander encountered and enjoyed the privileges of divinity as he pushed his armies east, having his […]

    Josephus’ Armies in the Sky February 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Josephus' Armies in the Sky

    One of the most celebrated reports from antiquity of bizarre goings on in the sky appears in Josephus, History of the Wars relating to c. 65 AD. Besides these, a few days after that feast [of the unleavened bread], on the twenty first day of the month of Artemisius, a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon […]

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