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  • Saint Patrick’s Sinning Past December 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Saint Patrick's Sinning Past

    Most saints begin life as, well, saints. They help their parents with chores; they annoy more normal brothers and sisters; and they make discreet enquiries into career prospects for monks and nuns. However, there are some – Beachcombing likes to think of them as ‘the rogues’ – who have more colourful pasts. Typically these men […]

    Atlantis: myth and history and type C mysteries December 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Atlantis: myth and history and type C mysteries

    Beachcombing wrote a post about pre-Platonic Atlantis a few days ago and he also confessed, in another post, to having a general Atlantis itch this December. Then late last night he woke up sweating with what he can only describe as an Atlantis epiphany. True, Beachcombing has not yet discovered the lost continent in the environs of Little Snoring, his […]

    Classicists and the Other Side December 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Classicists and the Other Side

    Beachcombing recently opened up a new tag on ‘Rogue Researchers’, lovable academics who have left the bounds of their respectable (and incredibly tedious) colleagues by, say, talking to spirits at archaeological digs, boiling dormice alive or, a personal Beachcombing favourite, re-enacting Mayan heart removal on Mexican John Does. And today he wants to induct a […]

    Plato’s Atlantis Before Plato December 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plato's Atlantis Before Plato

    Ah Atlantis… Say the word to a marine biologist, whose marriage has just ended, or a billionaire at a loose end and the chances are that they will go running off and find Plato’s mysterious continent in Bolivia or Ireland… Indeed, almost every region, island and country in the western hemisphere – including Bolivia and Ireland… […]

    Review: The Folio Book of Historical Mysteries December 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Review: The Folio Book of Historical Mysteries

    The Folio Society, for those who don’t know, is a British publishing company that produces high-quality editions of high-quality titles and their books are reasonably priced for what they are – slipcases, hand-stitching…. These books cannot – there is always a catch – be bought individually (at least not first-hand…) and the reader has to become a […]

    Dog-headed Indians November 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Dog-headed Indians

    What do Marco Polo, Augustine, Paul the Deacon, Vincent of Beauvais and the Buddhist missionary, Hui-Sheng all have in common? Well, to keep things short – Beachcombing is on bedtime duty tonight for his insomniac daughter – they all described and (with the exception of Augustine) believed in tribes of dog-headed human beings in lands distant […]

    Great Balls of Floury Fire November 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Great Balls of Floury Fire

    Food is dangerous at the best of times. But a thoughtful note by J van Leuven in an archaeological journal (Antiquity) from 1979 should prove of interest to all bizarrists as it suggests that food, more particularly grain, had the potential to bring powerful Mycenaean city states, including Knossos, to their knees. Now if this […]

    The Napalm Snake Mystery November 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Napalm Snake Mystery

    In ancient and medieval and, indeed, modern times geographers frequently got things embarrassingly wrong for those there-be-dragons areas outside the circuit of their little worlds. So the early Greeks believed that the Gobi desert was full of flightless griffins. The Byzantines were convinced that the air in Scotland was poisonous. And the British in the […]

    The Three-Thousand-Year-Old Toads of Hector of Troy? November 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    The Three-Thousand-Year-Old Toads of Hector of Troy?

    Beachcombing greatly enjoyed, a month ago, looking at one of the world’s oldest surviving animals – the tortoise Harry/Harriet that Darwin brought away on the Beagle and who – bless her - died in 2006. He received, from readers, notice of several other historical tortoises that he hopes to come to in time. However, he thought that for today […]

    On Church Fathers and Peacock Flesh… November 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    On Church Fathers and Peacock Flesh...

    Beachcombing doesn’t much care for the greatest Church Father of them all, Augustine. Perhaps its what ‘the Confessor’ did to his mother and his concubine. Perhaps it is his rather smug treatment of Britain’s first fanatic, Pelagius. Perhaps it is his Latin that is so tiresomely balanced and his apparently imbalanced thinking. But Beachcombing must […]

    Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and ‘the Survival of the Fittest’ November 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and 'the Survival of the Fittest'

    ‘Mary Beard’, ‘Mary Beard’..: even now, twenty years on from the beginning of Beachcombing’s infatuation (naturally unfulfilled), the words are enough to send a lightening bolt into that blogger’s overstrained central cortex. Beachcombing still remembers seeing Mary’s swan-like body for the first time, in the reading room at the UL: indeed, Beachcombing trembled as Britain’s most beautiful […]

    Aristotle and the Flatulent Earth October 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Aristotle and the Flatulent Earth

    Beachcombing is always loath to give any publicity to the appalling Aristotle – and recently had a piece on Aristotle’s lost work on comedy wrung out of him against all his better judgement. However, after Beachcombing’s first experience of an earthquake last year he found himself grazing in Aristotle’s Metereology where the non-Platonic one gives […]

    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung October 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung

    Pytheas of Marseille was a Greek sailing captain who, in the fourth century BC, ventured from the comfortable and known Mediterranean out into the northern Atlantic describing what he found there. Later generations believed that Pytheas was a fantasist and decried him. But, from the bits and pieces of Pytheas’ work that have survived – […]

    Calleva: the Last Romano-British City October 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Calleva: the Last Romano-British City

    Beachcombing finishes, today, his rapid tour around bizarre or curious near-London and London sites: a work he has undertaken partly for Canadian History Student and partly out of nostalgia – he is in Italy at the moment.  And what better place to end than Calleva Atrebatorum, the Woody Place of the Atrebates Tribe, way out […]

    The Isis Arms: Britain’s oldest pub October 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Isis Arms: Britain's oldest pub

    Beachcombing is having fun this week looking for off-the-beaten-track places in and around London for Canadian History Student. And this morning he is out on Tooley Street in Southwark seeking London and, indeed, Britain’s oldest pub, the Isis Arms. The pub in question was built in the first generation of Roman London, say, c. 70 […]

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