jump to navigation
  • The Vein of Love and the Ring Finger May 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    The Vein of Love and the Ring Finger

    A beautifully realised graphic history of the engagment ring by Vashi led to thoughts about why, in the Western World, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger, the third finger of the left hand counting from the index. The answer most authorities give, from nineteenth-century reference works, to modern wedding miscellanies, to early […]

    The Nile’s Flooding and the Limits of Logic May 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Nile's Flooding and the Limits of Logic

    Herodotus was fascinated by Egypt, a kind of topsy-turvy version of his Greek world, and above all, in the second book of the Histories, he shows that he was fascinated by the Nile that ran through Egypt. The great mystery with the Nile for Herodotus and his readers, though it seems to have little bothered […]

    The Prisoner in the Temple: the Bloodiest Lie January 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Prisoner in the Temple: the Bloodiest Lie

    Beach has previously looked at ‘the gong of the world’, the desert boy Apion, who while still brushing sand from his hair, decided to insult the Jews of Alexandria and, indeed, the Jews of the entire Mediterranean. We do not have Apion’s anti-semitic work, the classical equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: […]

    Burning Library: Apion’s Writings January 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Library: Apion's Writings

    Beach has sometimes in the past celebrated burning libraries, books (and for the multimedia age films) which we know once existed but that have long since disappeared into the dusty maws of time. An impressive burning library author to add to the growing file is Apion Plistonices, impressive because Apion managed to lose not a […]

    The Oldest Record of an Escaped Slave? November 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Oldest Record of an Escaped Slave?

    Consider this record reporting an escaped slave named Hermon or alternatively Nilus. About 18 years old, of medium stature, beardless, with good legs, a dimple on the chin, a mole by the left side of the nose, a scar above the left corner of the mouth, tattooed on the right wrist with two barbarian letters. […]

    Italy’s World War Disaster November 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Italy's World War Disaster

    Italians and World Wars don’t really get on. A combination of poor military culture and one of the most macho yet incompetent political classes on the planet made for messy interventions, and amputations rather than extrications. However, even by sorry Italian standards, the six weeks beginning 28 Oct 1940 and ending 7-8 Dec 1940 were […]

    The First Automatic Door Bell in History? October 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The First Automatic Door Bell in History?

    ***Thanks to the person who sent this in. Sorry I can’t find your name now!*** It is the middle of the first century AD and you need holy solace from priests in your native Alexandria. You head down the dingy streets of the city as the sun is just breaking and then turn out in […]

    The Cherokees’ Mediterranean Origins!? August 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Cherokees' Mediterranean Origins!?

    Bizarrists must always be thankful for the Atlantic Ocean, because it has offered us some of the craziest history theories of the last two hundred years. Welsh Indians in Florida, Indians in Ireland, Gaels in Newfoundland, Vikings everywhere, the Chinese in New England building lighthouses, Babylonians in California,  Atlantis in Bolivia… Most of this is […]

    Meteorite Weapons July 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Meteorite Weapons

    ***Thanks to Radko for inspiring this post*** Imagine a blade made from a star. Now this is not actually as far fetched as it might first seem. After all, ‘stars’ (aka meteorites) sometimes fall to earth and some of them have enough iron content to make a blade practical. These blades are not necessarily exceptional: […]

    How to Train a Griffin! June 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    How to Train a Griffin!

    Beni Hassan is a collection of ancient Egyptian tombs in central Egypt. The tombs there have many precious illustrations of day-to-day life under the Pharoahs. And one of the most curious images is that above from the tomb of Khety (eleventh dynasty). Reader, what are you looking at? No, idea? Well, there is little doubt […]

    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 […]

    Egyptian Quisling in Canaan? April 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Egyptian Quisling in Canaan?

    This year has been a particularly exciting one in Egyptology: the brewer’s tomb, a new pharaoh (and dynasty), Horemheb’s pyramid… Not least of the prizes has been a very unusual Egyptian grave found outside the bounds of the Nile valley. In fact, the grave in question was dug up in, of all places, ‘Canaan’ (Jezreel, […]

    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 […]

    Page 1 of 41234