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  • Chinese in Roman London? October 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Chinese in Roman London?

    Chinese in Roman London? It is well known that the Roman empire was a cosmopolitan place, even a tedious, sorry backwater like Britannia. The combination of soldiers, slaves and solid economic infrastructure meant unprecedented movement of individuals. However, what about the history story of the week, the claim that two Chinese bodies have been dug […]

    The Origins of Excalibur and Late Medieval Funerals June 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
    The Origins of Excalibur and Late Medieval Funerals

    It is perhaps the single most famous image from the Arthurian canon: the sword being returned to the water, into the grasp of the Lady of the Lake. Beach includes here the scene from the 1981 film Excalibur, which caused his seven year old daughter to audibly gasp when she watched it this morning. Scholars have […]

    Immortal Meals #26: The Professors and the Cave Bone Broth September 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals #26: The Professors and the Cave Bone Broth

    The immortal meals series has included prehistoric food and it has included an unlikely Victorian dinner in a dinosaur but this reference, thanks to Chris from Haunted Ohio Books is on a whole different level. Some of the bones of extinct animals found beneath the stalagmite floor of caves in England and elsewhere, presumably of […]

    Seventeen Bodies in a Well: A Norwich Mystery July 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Seventeen Bodies in a Well: A Norwich Mystery

    The picture above is a horrific one. The bodies of seventeen individuals, eleven of them children (the youngest two years of age) who were, at some point in the Middle Ages (dating 1150-1300), thrown down a well in the East Anglian town of Norwich.  The bodies were discovered in 2004 and various years of careful […]

    The First Funeral Wreath, c. 60,000 B.C.? September 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    The First Funeral Wreath, c. 60,000 B.C.?

    Archaeology is an extremely vague art and the greatest danger its practitioners face is the temptation of joining chance findings together to create imaginary narratives. Take the first flower funeral in history. In 1960 Ralph Solecki, a US archaeologist, excavated a Neanderthal grave in Iraq in the famous Shanidar Cave: one of several Neanderthal graves […]

    A Westerner in Early Medieval China? September 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Westerner in Early Medieval China?

    Here is a story that has come out of the Chinese media in the last few days and that has been little noticed in the west, certainly it has been little discussed. The reports are unsatisfactory in all kinds of ways. But the bare bones of information includes the following: in M1401, an early medieval […]

    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas August 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas

    Jane Stanley is an extremely talented archaeological reconstruction artist, based out of Cornwall. Castle-an-Dinas is an Iron Age fort in the middle of that county, a six-acre site second only, in terms of its natural charisma, to South Cadbury in Somerset. Put Jane and Castle-an-Dinas together and you get some of the best historical fiction around, […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel July 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel

    The Rillaton Cup was a prehistoric gold beaten vessel that was discovered in a barrow in Cornwall (the cairn on the map below to the north east of the Hurlers). It is beautiful and antiquarians have compared it to the fabulous Mold cape, which is probably roughly contemporary. However, there is another connection between the […]

    Who Built Offa’s Dyke? April 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Who Built Offa's Dyke?

    Offa’s Dyke is an important earthwork that runs along, very approximately, the English Welsh border. Its name comes from the little known (but apparently impressive) eighth-century Mercian king Offa (obit 796). The problem is that the dyke’s name may be a misnomer. Certainly, over the last generation there have been increasingly forceful attempts to wrest […]

    Pre-Columbian Trips to America? Ballast! January 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Pre-Columbian Trips to America? Ballast!

    Imagine the excitement of the archaeologists who had gathered at NA-57 off the Florida coast near Fernandina in 1972. In some offshore piles they had found various bits of ‘rubbish’ from European settlers: ceramics, pipes, glass fragments… Nothing special you might think. But what was unusual was the dating. British settlements began in the area in […]

    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, […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London! July 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London!

    In 410 the walls of Britannia came crashing down. In a situation of great confusion Rome apparently disavowed its interest in the island; the island that had always been its poorest province, and got on with trying to save its continental possessions: the failure of that task a generation later marked the end of the […]

    Tanfield Valley: Europeans in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island? January 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tanfield Valley: Europeans in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island?

    Tanfield Valley [A] is one of the most exciting sites to have come under the archaeologist’s trowel in the last fifty years: less golden but in its way as thrilling as Tutankhamen’s tomb. The valley – more a hollow – is an unusually green part of rocky Baffin Island and for five seasons, Patricia Sutherland, […]

    English King Discovered Under Carpark September 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    English King Discovered Under Carpark

    ***Dedicated to Roundj*** Beach does his very best not to be topical on this blog. But the news coming from Leicester (UK) yesterday is hard to ignore. At the end of August archaeologists began to dig in a car park there in search of the body of Richard III, the last English king to die […]

    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 […]

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