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  • Athens and Ghosts May 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Athens and Ghosts

      A month ago Beach published a story of a legal case between Irish tenant and landlord over a haunting. While typing the account out, while reading the emails about it and generally in that week, Beach had this strange déjà vu, nothing new under the sun feeling. He’d come across something similar before. Finally, his memory […]

    The Earliest Description of a Zoo? April 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Earliest Description of a Zoo?

    There is a long-standing argument among historians and archaeologists about the world’s earliest zoo. Candidates come from across Euro-Asia, from the Mediterranean to China, and include the exciting recent digs at Hierakonpolis (Hawk City), where now well over 100 animals, ranging from hippos to baboons and wildcats to dogs, have been disinterred.  However, archaeology always […]

    When Cats Killed Men April 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    When Cats Killed Men

    Can a cat kill a human being? In the modern world you would need to invent a rather elaborate scenario involving microbes, extreme allergies or a long flight of stairs to make that one work. But in ancient Egypt cats regularly murdered their human neighbours: though first their human neighbours had to kill them. Diodorus […]

    The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Are More Rainbow Coloured on the Other Side of the Fence April 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Are More Rainbow Coloured on the Other Side of the Fence

    Hallucinogens are frequently found in the traditional religious life of hunter-gatherers and rural communities. There are, of course, literally hundreds of different ways of intoxicating yourself ranging from toad glands to nutmeg, from jimson weed to ergot spores. And naturally, these techniques which, depending on your point of view, canker or enhance reality, are important […]

    Death By Basketball April 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Death By Basketball

    Humanity is extraordinarily ingenious in terms of the different ways it has found to execute people. We’ve reviewed on this blog before elephant executions; Mike Dash has recently given space to the Viking’s blood eagle; there is necklacing in Sub-Saharan Africa (a lynching rather than judicial capital punishment); the brazen bull in ancient Greece (another […]

    Capital Problems March 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    Capital Problems

    Capital cities should represent a country. They should be the head that directs and controls: unless you live in a properly federal society and there are none of those left. But what happens when capitals come to outweigh and dominate the country that they stand in? Take an example from close to this blogger’s home. […]

    Mass Misunderstandings and Worse March 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Mass Misunderstandings and Worse

    What is a Catholic or an Orthodox Mass? Well, it is essentially an act of magic, a miracle, the bread and the wine that are brought together become the flesh and the blood of Christ, which Christians then devour. Put in these brief, crude terms Christianity is a cannibalistic and highly unpleasant: though, of course, […]

    Feline Paws through History March 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Feline Paws through History

    ***Dedicated to Larry, Why Evolution is True and Andy the Mad Monk*** Feline lovers will curse us for saying this but the cat has not played a huge role in history. True, we have observed here in the past some its few runs across the stage of the past including the notorious cat organ, cat […]

    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain December 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain

    Let’s face it. If you want a good wine the last thing you will do is head off to the supermarket and buy an English brand. The idea is almost comic. French, Italian, yes. Australian, Californian, Hungarian, perhaps. But English grapes freezing their pips off on a vine in the Midlands, where not enough sun […]

    Good Executions? December 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Good Executions?

    Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution’: after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

    European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact December 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact

    The idea of pre-Columbian contact between the Americas and Europe or even Africa has been one that has understandably excited a lot of attention. What are the possibilities that Europeans ended up in, say, Florida or that ‘Floridans’ made it to, say, Scandinavia in 1491? Well, in this post we are going to take the […]

    Modesty and Killing November 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Modesty and Killing

    When Benito Mussolini was ‘executed’ (jolted out of a car by some communist partisans and shot in the chest in a ditch) he did not die alone. By his side was his lover and perhaps the most significant woman in his life, Clara Petacci. CP was gunned down a moment before Mussolini himself. The corpses […]

    Was Chess Invented in Ireland or China or India or…? November 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Was Chess Invented in Ireland or China or India or...?

                    There is a general consensus that chess came out of the east, that it arrived in Europe through the Arab Mediterranean and that from there it made its way to the royal courts of France and Germany. Certainly, by the fifteenth century a game that we recognise […]

    Newgrange and a Hundred Generations November 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
    Newgrange and a Hundred Generations

    Newgrange, standing near the Boyne, is one of the great treasures of Ireland and, indeed, of Europe. Built some four thousand years ago by the first Gaels it is mysterious and, when the mist comes in, vaguely malevolent. It is also exclusive. Each year a tiny group of fortunate men, women and children – chosen […]

    Flying with Diana October 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Flying with Diana

    One of the most fascinating questions about witchcraft belief is the extent to which it was invented by the Inquisition (and other bogey men of our own imaginations); or to what extent it reflected common beliefs held by medieval and early modern European populations. If we accept that the idea of the sabbat and devil-sex, […]

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