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  • Fighting Sea Monsters with Vinegar in Medieval Iran December 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Fighting Sea Monsters with Vinegar in Medieval Iran

    One of the joys of ancient and medieval geographies are the small ethnographic details that sound strange, but that might just possibly be based on fact. The following comes from the works of Chang De, a thirteenth century ambassador and informant for a famous Chinese work, The Record of an Embassy to the Regions of […]

    The First Funeral Wreath, c. 60,000 B.C.? September 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    The First Funeral Wreath, c. 60,000 B.C.?

    Archaeology is an extremely vague art and the greatest danger its practitioners face is the temptation of joining chance findings together to create imaginary narratives. Take the first flower funeral in history. In 1960 Ralph Solecki, a US archaeologist, excavated a Neanderthal grave in Iraq in the famous Shanidar Cave: one of several Neanderthal graves […]

    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers June 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    ISIS and Their Historical Caliphate Cobblers

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo and his Missus*** ISIS is a group of Islamists who have recently made it on the news by taking over a quarter of Iraq and an adjacent and not insignificant area of poor mutilated Syria. Flick through ISIS news reports and most will involve atrocity stories including decapitation, crucifixion and human bonfires: […]

    The Maps of Michael Izady September 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Maps of Michael Izady

    ***Thanks to Stephen D for this one!!!*** Beach loves maps, who doesn’t? But he was sceptical about Michael Izady’s efforts until he actually went to take a look at the host site. Basically MI has set himself the task of charting ethnic, linguistic and religious groups in the Middle East. For most of us that […]

    Totalitarian Bizarreness August 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Totalitarian Bizarreness

    Beach isn’t a big fan of totalitarian regimes, but in the defence of those sorry little (and occasionally big) regimes they do make for bizarre news stories. For example, the rumour is just coming in, via South Korea, that the Great Leader in the north has wiped out much of NK’s pop singing community. Among […]

    Fewest Casualties… June 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fewest Casualties...

    In what modern war did the fewest people die? Beach has been wasting a couple of joyful hours this morning looking through the annals of battles past and some dodgy Wikipedia pages. He has built in several limits to the survey. First, he has restricted himself to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where it is […]

    Reds and Blues in the Persian Gulf February 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Reds and Blues in the Persian Gulf

    Paul K. Van Riper was one of the most notable American warleaders of his generation. A marine commander who earned a reputation for fighting from the front in Vietnam, he finally retired as lieutenant general, 1 October 1997. Then, 24 July 2002, Rip (as he is know to his friends) went rogue and killed 20,000 […]