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  • The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted January 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted

    The Sphinx needs no introduction. The vast majority of educated people would be able to close their eyes and visualise his face almost perfectly, not least because of his use as an icon for antiquity and for Egypt and even for mysticism. But when we imagine the Sphinx in  our mind’s eye we, of course, […]

    The Wessel Coins 5#: Ian McIntosh Interview December 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Wessel Coins 5#: Ian McIntosh Interview

    Huge thanks to Dr Ian McIntosh who agreed to this interview about the Wessel Coins, about progress in last summer’s expedition and about hopes for next year. Previous posts on the medieval African coins that ended up in Australia are gathered together in this link. All readers please note that there is also a relevant […]

    In Search of the Hippophugi December 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    In Search of the Hippophugi

    Recently reading a good deal of medieval beast lore and came across this curious creature. As always there is that half-formed suspicion that this must be something real, if only we could pare back the description to its absolute essentials: In the same regions of the river Briso [in Ethiopia, there is much debate?] there […]

    Napoleon and the Great Pyramid: Myth and Reality December 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Napoleon and the Great Pyramid: Myth and Reality

    One of the best WIBT (wish I’d been there) moments in history must have been that wonderful occasion when Napoleon ascended to the royal chamber in the Great Pyramid and asked to spend a minute alone with the pharoahs: perhaps it is so fantastically attractive as history because no one was there and so there […]

    Monotheistic Moments November 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Monotheistic Moments

    There seems to be no question that early human societies were polytheistic. Might it even be said that polytheism is the natural human condition? Perhaps monotheism is the equivalent of Big Macs and fried mars bars, whereas we should all really be eating freshly killed gazelle and the fruits of the forest? There is, in […]

    The First Pictured Sub Saharan African? November 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The First Pictured Sub Saharan African?

    It would be untrue to say that the woman portrayed above is the first Sub-Saharan African to be reproduced by an artist, as there are various cave paintings pre-dating this work by several thousand years, some in the Saharan desert itself. But this is to the best of my knowledge: drbeachcombing at yahoo dot com […]

    African in Tenth-Century Britain September 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    African in Tenth-Century Britain

    ***Thanks to Borky for this lovely piece*** People and perhaps particularly kids are forever pulling things out of rivers. So the fact that, in July of this year, a couple of thirteen-year-olds dragged some human bones out of the Coln river in Gloucestershire is hardly a world-stopper.  Nor it is suprising that these bones turned […]

    The Wessel Coins #3: Kilwa and its Sultanate July 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Wessel Coins #3: Kilwa and its Sultanate

      Kilwa (or Quiloa as it was often called in European sources) was a small almost-tidal island off the coast of Tanzania. ‘Almost tidal’ because in its early history there was allegedly a causeway and even in later centuries it was possible to wade to Kilwa at low tide. The city of Kilwa was a […]

    The Wessel Coins #2: The Coins July 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Wessel Coins #2: The Coins

    In a previous post we examined the background to the discovery of the Wessel Coins. Today, instead, it is time to look at why the coins are so exciting. It will be remembered that Morrie Isenberg came across nine coins on the beach in Jensen Bay. These coins break down into two classes, and this […]

    Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings July 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings

    Luise White published, in 2000, her Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Very crudely – the book is difficult to reduce to a simple core because it recognizes complexity on the ground –White shows how colonial anxiety was played out through what she chose to call ‘vampire’ legends. Europeans and their agents […]

    The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery July 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery

    28 February 2013 the Indiana-University-Purdue-University sent out a press release announcing modestly: ‘IUPUI led expedition seeks source of thousand-year-old coins in Aboriginal Australia’. Nothing to see, move on? Well, it took the world’s press some time to catch on, the real interest only came in May. But, of course, ‘thousand’ year old coins in Australia […]

    Crowds #7: Fleeing July 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #7: Fleeing

    Beach greatly enjoyed, last year, writing a series of posts on crowds: i.e ransacking the web for likely images with the philosophy that groups, particularly ecstatic, tense or ‘altered’ groups make for interesting studies. There was crowds as art, those silly men with straw hats from August 1914, listening crowds, religion and crowds, prisoner crowds […]

    Turning Back the Years in Oz July 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Turning Back the Years in Oz

    ***With thanks to Invisible and Wade*** Consider a curious thing. Australian prehistory is far easier to rewrite than American prehistory. If you begin to question the route by which the Aborigines arrived in Australia, or posit an early Indian influx onto the continent or even begin to speculate about mahogany boats and seventeenth-century Caucasoid skulls […]

    Fewest Casualties… June 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fewest Casualties...

    In what modern war did the fewest people die? Beach has been wasting a couple of joyful hours this morning looking through the annals of battles past and some dodgy Wikipedia pages. He has built in several limits to the survey. First, he has restricted himself to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where it is […]

    Swiss Zulus June 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Swiss Zulus

    ‘Never invade Russia in November’, ‘never start a land war in Asia’ and ‘don’t ever but ever bring a sword to a gun fight’. That last point might be self evident. However, because of the technological gap between different cultures in the post medieval period, all too often courageous men with spears and blades found […]

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