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  • Last Will and Testament of a Pig January 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Last Will and Testament of a Pig

    Beachcombing ran across a curious little work today: the Testamentum Porcelli, Will of a Pig. It is possible that he read it many years ago because it seemed vaguely familiar: there is certainly something pleasingly grotesque in its words – a bit Roald Dahl - that brought Beachcombing back to his early 20s when Beach drank too […]

    Plato’s Atlantis after Plato January 7, 2011

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

        Was or wasn’t Atlantis a creation of Plato (obit 347/348 BC)? In antiquity as today – see Beachcombing’s previous ravings – there were competing views with the majority including Poseidonius and Aristotle (or pseudo-Aristotle?) believing it a myth. Aristotle as a student of Plato has particular authority and his opinion reported in Strabo unnerves […]

    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot December 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot

      In the ancient Mediterranean parrots were an exotic bird. They were rare, they were multicoloured and they could even repeat human words more convincingly than the native mimics: starlings, magpies and nightingales. Understandably, then, when they appeared, they were attention-grabbers. Indeed, in some periods of antiquity Beachcombing can barely read a source without tripping […]

    Aulus Gellius and Antique Forteana December 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Aulus Gellius and Antique Forteana

    Mrs B is incapacitated in the hospital, tiny little Miss B is learning to drink milk and the trusty family au pair is down and out with flu. Beachcombing, thus, has a terrifying day ahead of him alone with Little Miss B who has already made it clear that she objects to her little sister’s […]

    The Search for Fusang December 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Search for Fusang

    The snow is melting rapidly outside and just in time. Mrs B is suffering in the room above from what look like real contractions – Beachcombing conspicuously absent. Beachcombing then is going to let his source do all the talking today. If he hasn’t written much of a conclusion then the chances are that the […]

    Homer Hasenpflug Dubs and Roman Legionaries in Ancient China December 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Homer Hasenpflug Dubs and Roman Legionaries in Ancient China

    Drum roll, trumpet blast enter Homer Hasenpflug Dubs (obit 1969) an American-born Oxford don with a name that sounds as it it was purloined from an 1890s feel-good novel. Homer, to friends, was a capable if eccentric sinologist based out of ‘the other place’ for most of his teaching life. He wrote – as was […]

    First C-section and Pig Gelding December 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    First C-section and Pig Gelding

    Beachcombing is presently watching his beloved village disappear under that ghastly white stuff called snow. Mrs B., meanwhile, is running around with Little Miss B. upstairs in a state of wide-eyed childish bliss. She seems to have forgotten that, given she is now eight and a half months pregnant and given that the nearest hospital is […]

    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 […]

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