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Mongol elephants in America? July 22, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Mongol elephants in America?

For the second article of Elephant Week Beachcombing thought that he would introduce one of his favourite early nineteenth-century books. Just let the title wash over you… John Ranking’s Historical researches on the conquest of Peru, Mexico, Bogota, Natchez, and Talomeco in the thirteenth century by the Mongols, accompanied with elephants: and the local agreement of […]

Execution by Elephant July 21, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Execution by Elephant

                                            And so begins Elephant Week – for the next seven evenings an article will be given over to the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal. First of all, this extraordinary passage from the […]

An Early Christian Apostless July 20, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
An Early Christian Apostless

        Summer’s here, the sun’s out and Mrs B and little Miss B are trying not to have arguments with the in-laws on a distant strand of Mediterranean. Beachcombing, instead, took a far more sensible line and stayed at home with a collection of books and is subsisting on a diet of […]

Purring – a Lancashire Martial Art? July 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Purring - a Lancashire Martial Art?

      Nineteenth-century clog-fighting: did it really exist? First some background. Clogs, of course, at least in their English incarnation, were wooden-soled shoes typically used in factories or in mines by the working classes in centuries gone by, because they kept their feet warm and because they were cheap Some claim that factory workers would tap […]

ET Phones Home in the Fifteenth Century? July 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
ET Phones Home in the Fifteenth Century?

                Beachcombing has been thrilled by correspondence over his posts and hopes to put up the useful (as opposed to the merely nice or amusing) ones towards the end of this month. However, he has been disappointed by the almost complete silence over some of his early pieces from the […]

Invisible Libraries: a Victorian Contribution July 17, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Invisible Libraries: a Victorian Contribution

                    There is a respectable literary tradition dating back to the end of the Middle Ages of scholars, writers and fantasists creating libraries of books that might or that should have once existed. To the best of Beachcombing’s knowledge this tradition begins – where else? – […]

A Roman Emperor in Second-Century China? July 16, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
A Roman Emperor in Second-Century China?

              Classicists and Sinologists (experts on all things Chinese) spent much energy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century demonstrating that there had been contacts between the two greatest Empires of antiquity, the Chinese and the Roman. They succeeded to their own satisfaction and even came up with ‘evidence’ […]

A Fifteenth-Century Interest in Scandinavian Plague Rats July 15, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Fifteenth-Century Interest in Scandinavian Plague Rats

                          The Bubonic plague was around a long time before, in 1897, scientists finally discovered what caused the illness: disease-carrying fleas on the backs of rats. Then having taken over five hundred years to work out the plague in scientific terms: these same genius […]

A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century July 14, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century

                    If you want to rewrite the history of Western Europe in the 1920s then you could do a lot worse than get rid of ‘the Roman Lawmaker’, Benito Mussolini. Just imagine – as Beachcombing has often done – the overweight dictator dropping dead in 1926, ‘Year […]

Genocide on the Isle of Wight? July 13, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Genocide on the Isle of Wight?

            Beachcombing has noted before the refusal of archaeologists to face up to some of the bloodier customs of our ancestors. And what better example of this than the way that most archaeologists looking away on coming across any evidence of mass killings or human sacrifice in Dark Age Britain? Indeed, despite there being […]

Adult Breast-Feeding in the Renaissance and Early Modern World July 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Adult Breast-Feeding in the Renaissance and Early Modern World

                                      Beachcombing has been wasting his summer looking at Early Modern diet fads. Several have appealed to him, but certainly the one that clamoured most urgently for his attention was the belief that human breast milk was […]

New Theory for Vesuvius, 79 AD July 11, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
New Theory for Vesuvius, 79 AD

                  Beachcombing once spent a happy two hours being given electric shocks in an academic hospital in Naples (long story…), the experience leaving him with great fondness for the Frederick II University of that city. So much so, indeed, that he thought that he would give some publicity […]

Death by Celluloid July 10, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Death by Celluloid

                    When Beachcombing thinks of dying for your art wannabe poets from the 1890s come to mind, starving or being tiresomely consumptive in garrets in Paris or Berlin or Rome. However, Beachcombing does have a couple of examples in his files of men and women dying […]

Medieval Sex: The Good Salvation Guide July 9, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Medieval Sex: The Good Salvation Guide

                    The sex theme continues as Beachcombing can confirm the pregnancy of Mrs B. His wife is suffering from crippling morning (afternoon and night) sickness and little Miss B is proving more and more raucous, especially when her mother is at her worst. In celebration then of procreation and the ways in which it can […]

The Karma Sutra of the Ancient Mediterranean July 8, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Karma Sutra of the Ancient Mediterranean

                If there is a heaven then Beachcombing hopes that, past the brass-band podium and the daisy strewn park, there will be a public Library of Lost Books, stocked with the works of antiquity and the middle ages that inconsiderate ancestors forgot to hand down to us. And, […]

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