jump to navigation
  • Volcano or Leopard Skin? July 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Volcano or Leopard Skin?

    It is regularly cited as the earliest map in the world (‘the greatest find in cartographic history’); it is ‘certainly’ our earliest landscape painting. Here, at level VII, in one of the world’s first cities, Çatalhöyük in Turkey, is a remarkable mural. A group of tessellated squares that appear to be houses painted beneath a […]

    Medieval Marvels: Carving Liquid for Stone and Marble July 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Marvels: Carving Liquid for Stone and Marble

    Beach has sometimes looked, in this blog, at the marvellous works of Gervase of Tilbury, 104. Here is another from his book of curiosities. A liquid that allows for the moulding of stones. In our times, during the papacy of Alexander III [1155-1181], when I was a boy, a phial was found at Rome full […]

    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis! July 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis!

    Minneapolis is in a cavey region. It is also true that the discovery of the Schieks Cave in 1904 under downtown Minneapolis did cause some panic, but the concern was more about perceptions in a growing and prosperous city than danger. Little in the way of precautions seem to have been taken. Enjoy then this […]

    The Pirandello-Lenin Statue July 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Pirandello-Lenin Statue

    Beach has proud form in reporting stories of Lenin statues: including one in the United States and one (what spasm of Soviet insanity…) in Antarctica. However, he was thrilled to be recently sent this great story by LTM, to whom this post is respectfully dedicated. This letter appeared in the London Review of Books and […]

    Did William the Conqueror Fall? July 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Did William the Conqueror Fall?

    One of the stories handed down to generations of British school-children is the idea that William the Conqueror, on arriving in England, slipped as he was coming ashore. This, of course, was a terrible omen (for the Anglo-Saxons). In his eagerness to get to the shore, as he leaped from the boat, his foot slipped, […]

    Wolfe and the Seargent June 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wolfe and the Seargent

    This little snippet comes from 1827 and Hone’s Table Book. It describes, of course, the death of that great British hero, James Wolfe, just outside Quebec, in 1759, one of the most famous moments of the march of Empire. But it adds a detail that most Wolfe’s biographers have ignored… It is related of this […]

    The Lie of the Second Sons April 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Lie of the Second Sons

    When Beach wrote his university entrance exams, many decades ago, he waxed unlyrical about Europe’s second sons who went on crusade because there was nothing for them at home. There might have been some genuine pent up passion about killing Moors or walking where He walked, but it was really all about filthy lucre. The […]

    WW2 Myths: Forgetting General Winter April 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    WW2 Myths: Forgetting General Winter

    Today a bit of WW2 cobblers: the myth that the German High Command in 1941 forgot that there was a winter in the Soviet Union; thousands of German soldiers on the road to Moscow would be immobilized by ‘General Winter’ and have to face -20 or -30 degrees with nothing but lederhosen. Now as it […]

    Richard and Saladin’s Swords March 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Richard and Saladin's Swords

    One of the pleasures of writing a history blog is revisiting certainties, some picked up in infancy, and exposing them for the callow lies that they are. Many moons ago when Beach was learning to read he had a ladybird book on Richard the Lionheart. In those revered pages there was an image of a […]

    Immortal Meals #26: The Honey Baby March 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals #26: The Honey Baby

    It is a story still told in hushed voices by archaeologists and classicists. Here is a recent version by Ken Albala from his (very good) lecture series on the history of food. So there is this revealing story of this group of Egyptologists and they find this perfectly sealed jar of honey and they open […]

    Pythagoras and His Troubled Biography March 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pythagoras and His Troubled Biography

    Pythagoras (c. 570-480 BC) is a shadowy figure who stands at the beginning of the Greek philosophical tradition: though we are not sure really whether he ‘did’ philosophy at all. He is also often sold as a kind of long-haired Greek guru: though others have argued that he had little interest in religious matters. Still […]

    Ergot Madness in Historians March 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Ergot Madness in Historians

    Ergot is a fungus that grows on some crops, particularly rye, and is most common in northern temporal climes. When ingested by humans or animals it can cause hallucinations, temporary neurological disorders and circulation difficulties including burning limbs and, in serious cases, gangrene: there are records of peasants who lost all four limbs to ergot poisoning […]

    Killer Cameras March 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Killer Cameras

    When many years ago Beach travelled in Sub-Saharan Africa he was warned by anxious parents, and relatives not to take photographs of the natives. They might believe that their soul had been taken. Where does this idea come from? And did anyone anywhere ever actually believe it? Well, a run through sources suggests that the […]

    The Last Crusade, 1996-1999 February 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Last Crusade, 1996-1999

    Beach is always curious about the present’s manipulation of the past and there are few subjects that have been manipulated more than the Crusades. Those men and women who set off towards the Holy Land, in 1095 have been cast in almost every imaginable role in the last two hundred years. They have been made into […]

    Review: The Truth about Donald McCormick? November 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Truth about Donald McCormick?

    Hayek: A Collaborative Biography: Part III Fraud, Fascism, and Free Market Religion (ed) Robert Leeson What in God’s name…!?! This is a website which prides itself on investigating the seedy and bizarre in history. So why bother with reviewing volume three in a series of six on Friedrich von Hayek, an Austrian economist who died […]

    Page 1 of 1612345...10...Last »