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Incest in Ancient Egypt June 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Incest in Ancient Egypt

Incest is a fringe interest in most societies. However, Beachcombing has learnt, on a morning trip to his local library, that there are some curious exceptions: a number of Hawaiian clans, certain tribes in the Solomon Islands and, of course, the most famous of them all, the Egyptian pharaohs. Now, it is common knowledge among […]

The Were-Hyenas of Ethiopia June 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Were-Hyenas of Ethiopia

In the winter of last year Beachcombing had the werewolf mania bad and before he got bored with the hairy-handed ones he started to make notes on the Buda of Abyssinia, a winsome African lycanthrope. The following text was published in the second quarter of the nineteenth century and was written by a one-time European […]

Stealing Swords in the Congo April 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Stealing Swords in the Congo

  This post is dedicated to Ricardo R. whose father was there in Kinshasa on the day This famous image from the camera of Robert Lebeck is much anthologized as the ‘ African moment’. A gutsy young Congolese has jogged along the limousine of King Baudouin of Belgium and the Belgian Congo as then was. […]

A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria January 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria

  Ancient pillars survive even when associated buildings collapse. Many Greco-Roman pillars, indeed, are still standing today: a testimony to the durability of early Mediterranean civilisation. The medieval dwarfs looking back at the achievements of the classical world often got excited by pillars. Pillars were probably in part responsible for causing an early English poet […]

The Ass Who Became a Saint January 13, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Ass Who Became a Saint

Yesterday Beachcombing visited the doghead legend of St Christopher and today, in sympathy for that early canine holyman he thought that he would recount the remarkable canonization of an ass. The version that Beachcoming is about to give appears in a rather obscure but very worthwhile book: The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce (1831) describing the doings of […]

The Dog-Headed Saint January 12, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
The Dog-Headed Saint

  St Christopher is in many ways a typical early eastern saint. He was for many years a prisoner of war: check. He was a Roman soldier when he turned to Christ: check. His staff miraculously took to life and began to bloom: check. An angel – Raphael no less – gave him the gift of speaking […]

C-section by Banana Wine December 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
C-section by Banana Wine

  Beachcombing is going to break several rules today. First, he is going to write on the same topic two days in a row: apologies, apologies, but the C-section question has even excited him out of his recent Atlantis itch. Then, second, he is writing two posts on the same day. This is in part natural […]

On Church Fathers and Peacock Flesh… November 8, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
On Church Fathers and Peacock Flesh...

Beachcombing doesn’t much care for the greatest Church Father of them all, Augustine. Perhaps its what ‘the Confessor’ did to his mother and his concubine. Perhaps it is his rather smug treatment of Britain’s first fanatic, Pelagius. Perhaps it is his Latin that is so tiresomely balanced and his apparently imbalanced thinking. But Beachcombing must […]

The Tiv and Hamlet September 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Tiv and Hamlet

Laura Bohannan (aka Elenore Smith Bowen) was an anthropologist who came out of Oxford in the late 1940s. She did research with her husband Paul among the Tiv of Nigeria and the pair published several books on this federation over the next two decades. However, Bohannan also gave a remarkable BBC radio talk entitled, depending on […]

The Mystery of Hanno’s Fiery Streams August 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Mystery of Hanno's Fiery Streams

Regular readers will know that Beachcombing has visited the Voyage of Hanno before and that this text, written in Hellenistic Greek, purports to describe a Carthaginian expedition down the western coast of Africa in the early centuries B.C., in an age when good Mediterranean folk had as little to do with the sub-Saharan side of the continent […]

A Mystery Animal in Ancient Africa July 3, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
A Mystery Animal in Ancient Africa

Beachcombing has been fascinated by the Voyage of Hanno since he was in short classicist pants. For this text, written in Hellenistic Greek, purports to describe a Carthaginian expedition down the western coast of Africa in the early centuries B.C., at a time when good Mediterranean folk had as little to do with the sub-Saharan side of the continent […]

World’s Last Latin Speakers in Africa? June 23, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
World's Last Latin Speakers in Africa?

Yes, yes, Beachcombing knows that those bores in the Vatican and some Finnish broadcasters still speak Latin. He’s even been into monastic libraries where they won’t give you a manuscript unless you babble something from Lewis and Short. But what Beachcombing wants to know – and he doesn’t think he’ll get an intelligent response for […]

Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ June 1, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ

        Beachcombing can barely take down M. Cary and E.H. Warmington’s The Ancient Explorers without a tremble of excitement running through his body, such treasures are to be found there. One of his favourite sections is their dissection of Herodotus 4, 42-43, a passage where the Greek historian describes, with requisite scepticism, a […]

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