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  • 11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware April 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware

    This blog has pioneered a series of burning libraries: books that didn’t make it (23 to date)… But what about real burning libraries? Libraries that, at some point in Antiquity or the Middle Ages, were gutted by fire, accidental or deliberate. I have included here a list of eleven devastatingly bad ‘burning libraries’ or ‘burning […]

    Egyptian Quisling in Canaan? April 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Egyptian Quisling in Canaan?

    This year has been a particularly exciting one in Egyptology: the brewer’s tomb, a new pharaoh (and dynasty), Horemheb’s pyramid… Not least of the prizes has been a very unusual Egyptian grave found outside the bounds of the Nile valley. In fact, the grave in question was dug up in, of all places, ‘Canaan’ (Jezreel, […]

    Migrating Birds and the Edge of the World April 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
    Migrating Birds and the Edge of the World

    Year in year out birds follow migratory routes from north to south and from south to north. These travelling birds have long intrigued humans who have looked amazed as waves upon waves of birds fly to destinations unknown. These birds have entered human legend: the storks going to Africa to fight the pygmies, the wild […]

    How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade March 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade

    Checklist. You don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead? You are not squeamish about your body being messed around with after you have passed? You have no dangerous blood-bourne diseases? And you would like a form of immortality? Then why not volunteer to become an Egyptian mummy? This anyway is what happened 24 May […]

    A Medieval Phoenix and Heliopolis March 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    A Medieval Phoenix and Heliopolis

    The phoenix has been written about for well over two thousand years. Here though is a late version, a medieval version, in fact. It is interesting for its vividness and also for the curious confusion over Heliopolis, which the author situates in Ethiopia (rather than Egypt): any help with where this confusion begins, drbeachcombing AT […]

    A Fourteen Thousand Year Old Legend from Australia? March 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    A Fourteen Thousand Year Old Legend from Australia?

    This morning ran across one of the most incredible examples of oral transmission or perhaps it would be better to say apparent oral transmission, I’ve ever stubbed my toe upon. First, some generally established facts depending, thank God, on geologists and geographers (not historians). Tasmania is today an island off the southern coast of Australia […]

    Did the Greeks Build the Terracotta Army? March 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Did the Greeks Build the Terracotta Army?

    We’ve fluttered before around the interesting work of Lukas Nickel (see link at bottom of this page), alleging contacts between Greece and China in the early centuries B.C. In a recent article (‘The First Emperor and sculpture in China’) in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies LN suggests that there was […]

    Brazen Heads and Medieval Robots? March 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Brazen Heads and Medieval Robots?

    In the Middle Ages there emerged two kinds of artificial humans into the Christian imagination: the real thing needs, unfortunately, to be dismissed with Aztec jet planes and Pharonic nuclear bombs. First there were moving statues, brass and gold figures that were somtimes found guarding treasure hordes or, what might loosely be called, fairyland. These […]

    Whose Child? March 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Whose Child?

    The machinery of human reproduction means that (save in exceptional circumstances) there may be doubt about the father, but there can be no question as to a baby’s mother. But the whole doubt about the father thing is a serious issue, particularly if you live in a society where blood lines are taken seriously. This […]

    Plato Meets the Meteorite: Solon, Egypt and Atlantis February 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plato Meets the Meteorite: Solon, Egypt and Atlantis

    ***Dedicated to ANL who sent this in*** The story is well-known and comes in Plato’s Timaeus. Solon, the law-giver, has travelled to Egypt and there, in the city of Sais, he speaks to one old priest, who tell him how 9,000 years before a power named Atlantis had fought against Europe and Asia. These passages […]

    History and Earthquakes February 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    History and Earthquakes

    I’ve recently been wasting my time reading about earthquakes in British and Irish history. This does not reflect a new interest in geology, or local plate tectonics. It has rather to do with my perennial fascination for the way that historical sources are utterly unreliable and utterly skewed. When do earthquake records begin? Well, as […]

    The Mummy, the Slitter and the Mortuary Mob February 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Mummy, the Slitter and the Mortuary Mob

    Been reading a lot about Egyptian mummies recently. There are nauseating details, intermershed with fascinating stuff. Here is the single most famous description to come down to us in Herodotus: The best process is this one: as much as possible of the brain is taken out through the nose with an iron hook, and what […]

    The Earliest Moustache in History? February 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Earliest Moustache in History?

    The strangest things survive in the strangest places. Take the separated moustache of antique Persia, which is sometimes found in ancient visual representations. Heading this post is a Roman sculpture of a dying Persian and, here below, is a Parthian woolen piece that somehow survived from the first century B.C. and which is kept in […]

    How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use January 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use

    There are grey moments in history and there are black moments and, then, every so often there are wonderful conflagarations as the very paper that the past is written upon catches fire. Think the sheer brilliant evenescence of Athens in the fifth-century B.C.; Baghdad in the ninth century; or, indeed, Florence in the fourteenth and […]

    Water Thief Watcher January 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Water Thief Watcher

    In distant days I opened a tag on WCIH, ‘the worst careers in history’ and, before things fizzled out, I made the case for precolumbian sacrificial victims and the Galeotti. Here today is a new one to reopen the series, the Water Thief Watcher. Now for those without a degree in timekeeping the water thief […]

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