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A Ring, A Curse Stone and J.R.R. Tolkien October 11, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
A Ring, A Curse Stone and J.R.R. Tolkien

As noted in yesterday’s post Beachcombing is presently trying to pass on some off-the-beaten-track travel tips to Canadian History Student in his/her coming trip around south-east England. Beachcombing thought that for the second of his suggested visits he would counsel a quick run up to Vyne House near Basingstoke. Beachcombing doesn’t care much for the […]

Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London? October 10, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London?

Beachcombing got an email this week from a Canadian history student. ‘Seeing as you seem to have knowledge of historical things quite off the beaten track I thought I’d seek some historic tourism advice. I’m a Canadian history student and over Christmas I’ll be travelling to London. I plan on a doing a couple of […]

Boiling mice in the name of history October 3, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Boiling mice in the name of history

It is widely known, Beachcombing believes, that the Romans ate dormice. Despite sumptuary laws forbidding the practice – dormice were an indulgence – they were fattened in gardens and kept in winter in a glirarium (a large ceramic jar) to prevent them hibernating (and becoming thin…). They were then cooked, stuffed with  pine kernels, garum, […]

Super-Centenarians in the Roman Empire September 23, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Super-Centenarians in the Roman Empire

Beachcombing knew that life expectancy in the Roman Empire stood at between twenty and thirty years of age – a figure dragged down, of course, by appalling infant mortality. So he was particularly fascinated to come across this passage in Pliny the Elder. In addition there are the experiences of the last census, held within the […]

Ten Thousand Romans in Turkmenistan September 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Ten Thousand Romans in Turkmenistan

There are many reasons for which individuals have travelled a long way from home in history: money, love, fear… But a vitally important and generally overlooked motive is imprisonment. Soldiers taken in battle have often (and very sensibly) been moved from where they were captured to the furthest possible point from their own country to avoid […]

The Nine Unknown – An Invisible Library September 15, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
The Nine Unknown - An Invisible Library

In Beachcombing’s ergot, ‘invisible libraries’ are books or collections of books that have never existed except in the fantasies of readers. And today he has a cracker. In Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians there appears a description of the Nine Unknown Men of India and their notebooks. For those who do […]

Centaur of Volos September 5, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
Centaur of Volos

All centaur-lovers with a honeymoon or a sabbatical coming up should buy a ticket to Knoxville, Tennessee and visit the second floor of the Hodges Library at the University there. Still encased in the Greek mud, in which it sank almost two thousand five hundred years ago, is a centaur, the only one you will […]

History and Akasha – A Walk on the Wild Side… September 4, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
History and Akasha - A Walk on the Wild Side...

Bit of an unusual post today as Beachcombing plunges, with misgivings and fear, into Akasha. Akasha is – for those of you, like Beachcoming a week ago, who have not the foggiest –  ‘an unseen substance which is all around us all and present in every atom of this world and of the universe. This […]

The Buddha Converts to Catholicism August 31, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
The Buddha Converts to Catholicism

Dream last night in which Beachcombing was forced to sit and write an exam by his (terrifying) secondary school science teacher. The subject? Krishna naturally. Taking this as an omen of sorts Beachcombing has determined that today he will delve into Eastern religion and tell the scandalous story of the Christian saint Josaphat and his […]

In Search of Aristotle’s ‘On Comedy’ August 29, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
In Search of Aristotle's 'On Comedy'

            In 1928 that old grumpystiltskins K.K. Smith wrote that ‘Like many another Lost Atlantis the chapter on comedy which Aristotle may have written to conclude his analysis of Poetics has lured many a searcher into waters beyond his depths.’ And, mindful of the warning, Beachcombing straps on his Little […]

Centaurs in Deepest Arabia August 21, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Centaurs in Deepest Arabia

                  Phlegon of Tralles is not a Greek author of the first rank. Indeed, he rarely comes up in conversation among students of the ancient except for a reported remark concerning the death of Christ. But this small-time second-century writer, who was born in south-west Turkey and who lived […]

Roman legionaries in Central Asia? August 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Roman legionaries in Central Asia?

                    Beachcombing has written before about Roman penetration into central Asia and even possible direct contacts between Rome and the Chinese Imperial court. Tonight he wants, instead, to look at a claim that Romans – it is argued legionaries – visited western Uzbekistan close to Afghanistan […]

Review: Off the Beaten Track in the Classics August 14, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Review: Off the Beaten Track in the Classics

Beachcombing has to go and prepare a birthday surprise for a beloved niece and so decided that, today, he would limit himself to a quick write up of one of his favourite ancient history books: Carl Kaeppel’s Off the Beaten Track in the Classics (Melbourne 1936). If the name does not excite you then the […]

The Mystery of Hanno’s Fiery Streams August 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Mystery of Hanno's Fiery Streams

Regular readers will know that Beachcombing has visited the Voyage of Hanno before and that this text, written in Hellenistic Greek, purports to describe a Carthaginian expedition down the western coast of Africa in the early centuries B.C., in an age when good Mediterranean folk had as little to do with the sub-Saharan side of the continent […]

Sex and Roman Coins August 7, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Sex and Roman Coins

          Beachcombing has waited for the family and some houseguests to vanish into the local countryside before addressing this particularly delicate theme. Spintria was a rare Latin word, used most vividly by Suetonius to describe the sexual acts of that old goat, the Emperor Tiberius on the island of Capri (43). But the […]

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