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  • Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers October 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers

    ***Dedicated to Amanda and BFM*** Bad Archaeology, a necessarily quarrelsome but very worthwhile corner of the internet, is presently hosting an article on Out of Place Artefacts: objects that have turned up in places or in times where they would not be expected. As readers of Strange History will know the present author has frequently […]

    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa October 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa

    By the mid first century AD the Roman Empire had run against four limits, limits that its subjects would never overcome: in the west, the Atlantic; in the north, the German tribes (thanks Varus); in the east, the ‘Persian’ Empire and its successors; and in the south, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert beyond. […]

    The Origins of One-Foot September 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Origins of One-Foot

    ***Dedicated to Leif*** Humanity has the habit of peopling the edges of its maps with unusual creatures: the ‘there-be-dragons’ phenomenon. We have previously on this blog looked at dog-heads, for example, both in relation to India and Ethiopia. Dog-heads can be explained, as perhaps can unicorns and even dragons and cyclops. But how do you […]

    Child Sacrifice in Carthage September 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Child Sacrifice in Carthage

    Beach is getting dangerously topical. First, there was the discovery of Richard III’s bent body, next to Jesus’s wife and now an old obsession of his, Carthaginian child sacrifice is breezing through the newspapers. In fact, the right of the ancient Carthaginians to sacrifice their children has just, it seems, been outlawed by some Pittsburgh […]

    Jesus Christ and Naked Men September 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Jesus Christ and Naked Men

    All the fuss about Jesus’ wife the other day, put Beach in mind of an earlier controversial Biblical find, one that is, in many ways, more exciting. In 1958 a (then) young Biblical scholar Morton Smith (obit 1991) was working in the library of the Monastery of Mar Saba on the West Bank when he […]

    Christ’s Wife September 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Christ's Wife

    ***Thanks to Larry, Amanda, Southern Man and PJ*** The news came in yesterday afternoon courtesy of three or four emails sent in by readers. The email line: ‘Breaking News Alert: Ancient papyrus suggests Jesus was married’. Wth! Beach spilt his Bacardi and Rum all over his keyboard and walked around the room in a stupor. […]

    Hostage Taking in Ancient and Medieval Times September 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Hostage Taking in Ancient and Medieval Times

    When we think of hostages today we tend to think of men with pistols using some poor innocent as a human shield. But in the ancient and medieval world hostage-taking was formalised. Conquered territories would give up children of notables who would be conveyed to an enemy capital or castle and who would then be […]

    Fusion and Confusion in Post Roman Britain September 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Fusion and Confusion in Post Roman Britain

     ***This extended essay was written as a sequel to a previous post on Roman Britain signalled in the first link*** We have looked before in the place at the darkness that descends on Britain after Rome decamps from the island. Our ignorance about this period of British history is simply astounding. We know that there […]

    Earliest Flying messengers September 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    Earliest Flying messengers

    Beachcombing has a few bizarre carrier pigeon stories in a mauve file under the staircase: I mean are pigeon stories ever going to be normal? He thought though that he’d start his pigeon campaign with a simple even tedious question. When were pigeons first used as messengers? Their role carrying messages in the two world […]

    The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns September 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns

    The following appears in the Life of St Paul by Jerome, chapters 7 and 8. These passages are interesting because we have a very unusual attitude to in-between creatures, particularly given what an intolerable stick in the mud, Jerome was about everything that didn’t come out of the gospels and Paul’s letters… The blessed Paul […]

    Are Societies What They Eat? September 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Are Societies What They Eat?

    There is no question that food and drink change us. If you begin to drink two litres of coca-cola a day, instead of a litre of fizzy water or if you start chewing on cocoa leaves instead of making banana smoothies your family will quickly notice a difference. Here there is and can be no […]

    Armpitting September 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Armpitting

    Armpitting is something that you would not wish on your worse enemy. Well, no actually that is not quite true. It is something that, in antiquity, you reserved specifically for your worst enemy, but only when he was lying on the floor belching blood. The one extensive reference to armpitting comes in the Suda, a […]

    Children of the Dung Heap September 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Children of the Dung Heap

    There are some strange surnames if you take care to look around. And the present author knows of what he speaks: being called Beachcombing gets you some very curious looks in post-offices and at border crossings… But Beach’s personal favourite from history is the Greco-Egyptian name Kopr- (with many derivatives) meaning, of course, ‘dung’. These […]

    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

    ***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

    Cursing, Roman Style August 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Cursing, Roman Style

    ***Dedicated to Mac, Invisible and Southern Man who sent the latest British curse tablet in*** The Romans were, as is well known, good at everything. They could start land wars in Asia and win; they could sell their soul for the fruits of the known world and enjoy said fruits; they could sail to southern […]

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