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How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade March 27, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade

Checklist. You don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead? You are not squeamish about your body being messed around with after you have passed? You have no dangerous blood-bourne diseases? And you would like a form of immortality? Then why not volunteer to become an Egyptian mummy? This anyway is what happened 24 May […]

A Medieval Phoenix and Heliopolis March 25, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
A Medieval Phoenix and Heliopolis

The phoenix has been written about for well over two thousand years. Here though is a late version, a medieval version, in fact. It is interesting for its vividness and also for the curious confusion over Heliopolis, which the author situates in Ethiopia (rather than Egypt): any help with where this confusion begins, drbeachcombing AT […]

A Missing History of the Kings of the Franks in Cairo! March 9, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Missing History of the Kings of the Franks in Cairo!

Our latest contribution to the burning library series is glimpsed, painfully briefly, in a tenth-century Arabic source. In the year 947, by the Christian calendar, the Islamic scholar Al-Mas’udi (obit 956) was rifling the shelves of a library in Cairo when he came across a suprising work. He had stumbled upon A History of the […]

Plato Meets the Meteorite: Solon, Egypt and Atlantis February 22, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Plato Meets the Meteorite: Solon, Egypt and Atlantis

***Dedicated to ANL who sent this in*** The story is well-known and comes in Plato’s Timaeus. Solon, the law-giver, has travelled to Egypt and there, in the city of Sais, he speaks to one old priest, who tell him how 9,000 years before a power named Atlantis had fought against Europe and Asia. These passages […]

The Mummy, the Slitter and the Mortuary Mob February 20, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Mummy, the Slitter and the Mortuary Mob

Been reading a lot about Egyptian mummies recently. There are nauseating details, intermershed with fascinating stuff. Here is the single most famous description to come down to us in Herodotus: The best process is this one: as much as possible of the brain is taken out through the nose with an iron hook, and what […]

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, […]

The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies December 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies

The most dysfunctional family in history? The Tudors in England showed peturbing signs of genius. The line of Augustus in ancient Rome degnenerated into madness and murder. The Neo-Flavians were pretty confused too. The Borgias bless them… But, let there be no ambiguity, no one comes close to the Ptolemies,  the last dynasty of Greek […]

Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil? December 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil?

For the hundreds of thousands of cats and kittens brought up for mummification in ancient Egypt life was brutal and short. Most lived six months to a year and then were either hammered on the head, or more typically had their necks wrung before being tightly bound and sold to the religious perhaps particularly pilgrims, […]

Napoleon and the Great Pyramid: Myth and Reality December 2, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
Napoleon and the Great Pyramid: Myth and Reality

One of the best WIBT (wish I’d been there) moments in history must have been that wonderful occasion when Napoleon ascended to the royal chamber in the Great Pyramid and asked to spend a minute alone with the pharoahs: perhaps it is so fantastically attractive as history because no one was there and so there […]

Monotheistic Moments November 28, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Monotheistic Moments

There seems to be no question that early human societies were polytheistic. Might it even be said that polytheism is the natural human condition? Perhaps monotheism is the equivalent of Big Macs and fried mars bars, whereas we should all really be eating freshly killed gazelle and the fruits of the forest? There is, in […]

Arty Monarchs November 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Arty Monarchs

How many rulers can you think of who show a gift for the arts? By this we don’t mean a Charles I or a Cosimo de Medici who could talent spot. Rather Beach is looking for blood-line rulers who were actually good with the paint-brush or with chisel or (taking the broader sense of ‘the […]

The First Pictured Sub Saharan African? November 19, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The First Pictured Sub Saharan African?

It would be untrue to say that the woman portrayed above is the first Sub-Saharan African to be reproduced by an artist, as there are various cave paintings pre-dating this work by several thousand years, some in the Saharan desert itself. But this is to the best of my knowledge: drbeachcombing at yahoo dot com […]

The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks July 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks

***Dedicated to Wade, who sent this treasure in*** If you hang round ancient archaeologists long enough you end up being shown pictures of strange objects and being asked ‘What do you think that is for? What did they do with that?’ The sophistication of ancient technology and the complexity of ancient societies – compared with […]

The Earliest Description of a Zoo? April 30, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Earliest Description of a Zoo?

There is a long-standing argument among historians and archaeologists about the world’s earliest zoo. Candidates come from across Euro-Asia, from the Mediterranean to China, and include the exciting recent digs at Hierakonpolis (Hawk City), where now well over 100 animals, ranging from hippos to baboons and wildcats to dogs, have been disinterred.  However, archaeology always […]

When Cats Killed Men April 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
When Cats Killed Men

Can a cat kill a human being? In the modern world you would need to invent a rather elaborate scenario involving microbes, extreme allergies or a long flight of stairs to make that one work. But in ancient Egypt cats regularly murdered their human neighbours: though first their human neighbours had to kill them. Diodorus […]

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