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  • The Origins of One-Foot September 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Origins of One-Foot

    ***Dedicated to Leif*** Humanity has the habit of peopling the edges of its maps with unusual creatures: the ‘there-be-dragons’ phenomenon. We have previously on this blog looked at dog-heads, for example, both in relation to India and Ethiopia. Dog-heads can be explained, as perhaps can unicorns and even dragons and cyclops. But how do you […]

    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot December 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot

      In the ancient Mediterranean parrots were an exotic bird. They were rare, they were multicoloured and they could even repeat human words more convincingly than the native mimics: starlings, magpies and nightingales. Understandably, then, when they appeared, they were attention-grabbers. Indeed, in some periods of antiquity Beachcombing can barely read a source without tripping […]

    Aulus Gellius and Antique Forteana December 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Aulus Gellius and Antique Forteana

    Mrs B is incapacitated in the hospital, tiny little Miss B is learning to drink milk and the trusty family au pair is down and out with flu. Beachcombing, thus, has a terrifying day ahead of him alone with Little Miss B who has already made it clear that she objects to her little sister’s […]

    Dog-headed Indians November 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Dog-headed Indians

    What do Marco Polo, Augustine, Paul the Deacon, Vincent of Beauvais and the Buddhist missionary, Hui-Sheng all have in common? Well, to keep things short – Beachcombing is on bedtime duty tonight for his insomniac daughter – they all described and (with the exception of Augustine) believed in tribes of dog-headed human beings in lands distant […]

    The Napalm Snake Mystery November 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Napalm Snake Mystery

    In ancient and medieval and, indeed, modern times geographers frequently got things embarrassingly wrong for those there-be-dragons areas outside the circuit of their little worlds. So the early Greeks believed that the Gobi desert was full of flightless griffins. The Byzantines were convinced that the air in Scotland was poisonous. And the British in the […]