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  • 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 […]

    Gluten, Famine and the Slow Crawl of Medical Knowledge August 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Gluten, Famine and the Slow Crawl of Medical Knowledge

    ***Beach wants to salute his readers for a couple of days as he is going on his yearly retreat (hermit’s cave etc): he’ll see you on the other side, if the wolves don’t come*** Wheat is the grain of the west. The crop that has followed Europeans wherever they have gone for the simple reason […]

    The Mysterious Island of Chronos/Cronos: Stonehenge, New Hampshire or Lundy!? July 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Mysterious Island of Chronos/Cronos: Stonehenge, New Hampshire or Lundy!?

    One of the most peculiar texts that Beachcombing has ever read is the description of the Island of Cronos – the titan pictured here with thanks to Goya – in Plutarch (c. 120 AD). Much has been made of this island and attempts to fix it on the map have been undertaken frequently: some have […]

    Precious Pot Sherds at Tell-el-Hesy July 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Precious Pot Sherds at Tell-el-Hesy

    Beach has failed to find the original for this as it appeared unreferenced: a crime he is going to compound by unreferencing that one late inadequate reference. However, the passage almost certainly relates to the work of Flinders Petrie at Tell-el-Hesy in 1890, sometimes said to mark the birth of modern archaeology. FP, among his […]

    Islam Creates Europe June 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Islam Creates Europe

    Modern Europeans tend to have mixed feelings about the rise of Islam: Islam and Christianity have, after all, been butting heads for the last fifteen hundred years. What is not normally appreciated though is the fundamental role Islam had in creating Europe. Islam, it will be remembered, was born in the Middle East in the […]

    Romans in Japan?! June 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans in Japan?!

    ***Dedicated to all these who sent this in: sorry I’ve misplaced the list!*** Beach has long since pioneered the wrong place, wrong time tags that set out examples of artifacts, languages, ideas and even DNA turning up in unexpected places or unexpected time periods. These have included such wonders as the last Latin speakers of […]

    The End of the Britains: Rome Abandons Britannia June 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The End of the Britains: Rome Abandons Britannia

    ***Dedicated to Southern Man*** If you want to imagine Rome and Roman Britain in the last difficult decades of their existence you might do worse than think of an egg trapped in a vice. The Empire was surrounded by hostile barbarian peoples who envied its wealth and lived according to the logic and for the […]

    Desperate Men: 490 BC June 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Desperate Men: 490 BC

    The Battle of Marathon is one of those events that has been so polished by historians and lyricists that it has become a mirror held up to every age which has cared to look into it. But behind the bumph and the pumph there remains a very real mystery. How did a (then) obscure Greek […]

    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice May 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent the relevant passage in*** The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings was well established in prehistoric, ancient and even (gulp) medieval times. The bigger and more important a building the more likely it was to a have a tot dropped in the cement. It is […]

    Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero’s Rotating Dining Room? May 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero's Rotating Dining Room?

    Beach’s reading today comes from Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, Nero (31) There was nothing however in which [Nero] was more ruinously prodigal than in building. He made a palace extending all the way from the Palatine to the Esquiline, which at first he called the House of Passage, but when it was burned shortly […]

    Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English May 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English

    ‘While I was on the ass, going to feed my dun hog, carrying only a matlock and some bannock, I saw a brock coming down from the tor that’s shaped like a bin’. It is not exactly poetry. But this sentence might stand as a memory aid for students of English. The interest lies not […]

    Lost in Transmission May 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Lost in Transmission

    Words echo through the centuries like coins dropped down an infinite well. And as they are passed on they are smoothed and confused in the mouths of the people. The best examples we have of this are, of course, placenames: in the space of eighty generations Londinium becomes London, Mamucium becomes Manchester and Euboricum becomes […]

    The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

    Pyramids in Italy April 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pyramids in Italy

    The pyramids of the Etruscan king Porsenna (fl c. 500 BC) are one of the great mysteries of antiquity. What does this passage ‘mean’? What did they really look like (try and visualise them)? Where were they? Hell, did they ever really exist? [Porsenna] was buried below the city of Clusium in the place where […]

    More Christ Confusion April 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    More Christ Confusion

        Beach wrote a few days ago of the most moving source for the historical Christ, a source that perhaps dates back to a decade after Jesus’ death. Today, instead, he thought he would look at the most amusing source for Christ’s death, a fragment from Josephus, the turncoat who supported the Jewish resistance […]

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