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  • Giraffes in Medieval China June 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Giraffes in Medieval China

    The giraffe, it is hardly necessary to say, is not indigenous to China. Yet from at least the thirteenth century, rumours began to travel back to the Middle Kingdom about a strange, long-necked creature in the west. This beast, sometimes called by the medieval Chinese the Camel-Ox, aroused only moderate interest: did Chinese travellers in […]

    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware April 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware

    This blog has pioneered a series of burning libraries: books that didn’t make it (23 to date)… But what about real burning libraries? Libraries that, at some point in Antiquity or the Middle Ages, were gutted by fire, accidental or deliberate. I have included here a list of eleven devastatingly bad ‘burning libraries’ or ‘burning […]

    Did the Greeks Build the Terracotta Army? March 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Did the Greeks Build the Terracotta Army?

    We’ve fluttered before around the interesting work of Lukas Nickel (see link at bottom of this page), alleging contacts between Greece and China in the early centuries B.C. In a recent article (‘The First Emperor and sculpture in China’) in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies LN suggests that there was […]

    A French Crusader and A Chinese Sword? February 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A French Crusader and A Chinese Sword?

    Little is known of Jean d’Alluye’s life. He belonged to the nobility of central France and he travelled to the Holy Land as a crusader in 1241 coming home three years later, 1244. Given that it will have taken him many months to get to Outremer and many months to return this was a relatively […]

    The Dragon’s Tail! A Continent or a Ghost? January 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Dragon's Tail! A Continent or a Ghost?

    La cola del dragón (the Tail of the Dragon), was a book published in 1990 by Paul Gallez (obit 2007), a Belgian/Argentinean historian. In this book Gallez alleged that a map by Martellus (obit 1496), dating to 1489 showed South America. If you are trying to understand why this should matter read the last sentence again: […]

    Zeus in China? January 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Zeus in China?

    This blog has pioneered the scientific reporting of contacts between distant civilisations with our wrong place tag. Today strangehistory offers up a particularly satisfying hint of Greek culture penetrating China in the Hellenic period (crudely fourth century to first century AD) based on the work of sinologist and WANW in the making Lukas Nickel and […]

    Chinese Dragons Head West January 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Chinese Dragons Head West

    Dragons have long been part of the mythic corpus of Europe, Asia and Africa and, if you include the various Amerindian Giant Serpents, the Americas as well. However, different cultures celebrated or reviled dragons in different ways and a dragon from Sweden with a breath that reaked of ragnarok and a wingless dragon from China […]

    Chinese Pied Pipers? November 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chinese Pied Pipers?

    Beach ran into this weird little text in the depth of the archives of a book quoting a book quoting a book. It is dated to 1820 but reported almost sixty years later in a discussion of horse whispering (a recent obsession on this blog). It does not appear in any newspaper database that we […]

    The Magic of Monkey August 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Magic of Monkey

      Monkey (aka Monkey Magic) was a Japanese series originally broadcast in two seasons: 1978/1979 and 1979/1980: there are 52 episodes. It was based on the famous Chinese novel describing Xuangzang’s journey to India with four guardians: a pig god, a monkey god, a fish god (think undine with skull bracelet) and a dragon who […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    Halley’s Comet and the Generations! May 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
     Halley's Comet and the Generations!

    ***Dedicated to Larry who got me interested in this and provided, through his emails and forwards, much of the information*** It recently struck Beach that Halley’s comet would be a perfect measure of the continuity of knowledge in ancient and medieval civilizations. After all, here is a comet that returns every 75 (and a bit) […]

    The First Sub-Saharan Africans in China? November 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The First Sub-Saharan Africans in China?

    The following extraordinary passage appears in a twelfth-century Chinese text, by one Zhu Yu. The text is entitled Pingzhou Chats on Things Worthwhile – the Chinese have such a way with titles – and has several treasures. Consider though this passage and the wildmen. The wealthy in Guangzho maintain numerous foreign slaves. These slaves are […]

    Was Chess Invented in Ireland or China or India or…? November 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Was Chess Invented in Ireland or China or India or...?

                    There is a general consensus that chess came out of the east, that it arrived in Europe through the Arab Mediterranean and that from there it made its way to the royal courts of France and Germany. Certainly, by the fifteenth century a game that we recognise […]

    Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers October 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers

    ***Dedicated to Amanda and BFM*** Bad Archaeology, a necessarily quarrelsome but very worthwhile corner of the internet, is presently hosting an article on Out of Place Artefacts: objects that have turned up in places or in times where they would not be expected. As readers of Strange History will know the present author has frequently […]

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