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  • The Problem with Shamanism March 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    The Problem with Shamanism

    ***dedicated to a misguided friend in Estonia*** All academic disciplines have terminological issues. Medievalists get excited about ‘feudalism’; archaeologists head-butt each other over ‘Celtic’; there are even some linguists who get upset about ‘Indo-European’. These words have been energized and arguments over them are about more than just semantics: disputes are bitter, useful and productive. However, […]

    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland? March 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland?

    It is the most extraordinary inscription. This mill-stone rock, which once stood on the top of Tory Hill in County Kilkenny in Ireland, has been taken as proof of Carthaginian contact and settlement or at least trade with Ireland in antiquity. The words clearly read (give or take some distorted letters) Beli Dinose, a reference to […]

    The Raven Stone Spell February 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Raven Stone Spell

    Location: tradition found in the Germanic regions of Continental Europe and Scandinavia, and also in parts of Britain. Aim: The collection of the raven stone (korp-sten in Scandinavia, Lloyd 1854, 331) that will render the owner invisible, though note that the stone is also credited with bringing luck and curing humans and cattle of diseases: […]

    Beach’s Book of Shadows February 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Beach's Book of Shadows

    Beach has a heaving filing cabinet full of spells: spells from the Middle Ages, spells from early modern Europe and spells from as recently as the Second World War. Some of these apparently date back to deepest antiquity; some are probably the spontaneous invention of men and women with borderline psychologies and would, as such, […]

    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect? December 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Wings: Bat, Bird or Insect?

    Another fairy wings question thinking of the last two posts on the origins of fairy wings and on the production of fairy wings: what do fairy wings look like? Here Beach is going to start wide by looking at all winged flying supernatural creatures including angels, Cupid, putti (curse them), cherubs (curse them), Psyche and […]

    Images of Deviant Burials December 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Images of Deviant Burials

    When Beach was in his early twenties he used to spend hours, and they were happy times, looking through detailed archaeological graphics of Anglo-Saxon and Roman cemeteries. At one point he used to take them to bed and fall asleep with Winchester A or Circencester 1982 Season open on his chest. There is something, well, […]

    Milk Stealers: Paleolithic or Neolithic? November 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    Milk Stealers: Paleolithic or Neolithic?

    It is a snakey week and here is a second snake post in almost as many days. There are many legends about snakes and other reptiles taking milk from nursing mothers, there are also many legends about snakes and other reptiles (and sometimes birds) taking milk from cattle. Beach has given examples of these tales […]

    Sowing the Land with Salt October 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Sowing the Land with Salt

    What do you do if you really dislike someone? Hurt them, tax them, kill them obviously… But if you really hate them you salt their land… Confused? Let’s head back to mid eighteenth century Portugal. The Tavora executions were some of the bloodiest from the eighteenth-century west: even fifty years later the family would have […]

    Wrong Place Castaways October 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Wrong Place Castaways

    Right through history castaways have been thrown up on foreign shores after a shipwreck, a storm or an argument on board (in many navies marooning was a form of punishment). For those of us interested in Wrong Place and Wrong Time phenomena these castaways are crucial. But how many were actually left behind. For example, how many […]

    Singing for Health in Tudor England October 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Singing for Health in Tudor England

    Sir Thomas Elyot (c. 1490-1546) was a Tudor polymath who wrote on politics, classical learning and Christian living: his day job, meanwhile, was as a diplomat to Henry VIII. In Elyot’s most interesting book (at least to the modern reader) The Castell of Helth the author sets out tips for good living and cures based […]

    Chinese in Roman London? October 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Chinese in Roman London?

    Chinese in Roman London? It is well known that the Roman empire was a cosmopolitan place, even a tedious, sorry backwater like Britannia. The combination of soldiers, slaves and solid economic infrastructure meant unprecedented movement of individuals. However, what about the history story of the week, the claim that two Chinese bodies have been dug […]

    The Future and Moles September 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    The Future and Moles

    Weak old humanity has long tried to wring drops of the future out in the present by: cutting open live calves, watching birds, reading palms, throwing bamboo rods and, well, hundreds of other methods. It is rarely that Beach comes across a form of divination that has most others beaten. His reference work is a […]

    Burning Library: Galen in Chinese Shorthand August 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Burning Library: Galen in Chinese Shorthand

    The Arab writer Ibn al-Nadim included this extraordinary record of contact between east and west in his Index of the Sciences, finished in 988. He is reporting an encounter between a Chinese student, visiting Baghdad, al-Razi, perhaps the greatest of the Persian writers of the golden age, and the writings of Galen, the greatest Mediterranean […]

    A Sumerian Heliocentric Universe July 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Sumerian Heliocentric Universe

    Beach got this email from ANL, an old friend of the blog, a couple of months back and he wondered whether any enthusiast, astronomer or logician can help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Something about circles has been bothering me for some time, and I was wondering whether you or one of your readers can […]

    Burning Libraries: Seleucus of Seleucia July 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Libraries: Seleucus of Seleucia

    Seleucus of Seleucia is one of the most intriguing writers of all antiquity: not least because practically everything about him is up for debate, a natural consequence of the loss of his writings. When did he live? Probably the mid second century B.C., but there is some uncertainty. Where was he from? Seleucia certainly, but is that […]

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