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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 […]

    Unlucky Days: Rufus Fears Speaks September 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    Unlucky Days: Rufus Fears Speaks

    It’s always fun when academics go off message in the middle of talks. Here is a particularly crazy example from a lecture by Rufus Fears, the celebrated classics professor and editor of Lord Acton, recorded for the Teaching Company, Famous Romans, 3. (The TC, btw, puts some great stuff out there and this series of […]

    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

    You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

    Jesus Christ and Naked Men September 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Jesus Christ and Naked Men

    All the fuss about Jesus’ wife the other day, put Beach in mind of an earlier controversial Biblical find, one that is, in many ways, more exciting. In 1958 a (then) young Biblical scholar Morton Smith (obit 1991) was working in the library of the Monastery of Mar Saba on the West Bank when he […]

    Burning Reputations in Science July 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Burning Reputations in Science

    Imagine for a second with Beachcombing that you are world famous scientist. You don’t have a Nobel Prize yet, but a telephone call from Stockholm is a distinct possibility, particularly if you don’t say anything unwise about the developing world or human rights. In the meantime, you have fawning doctoral students, colleagues sending you sixty […]

    Don’t Get Mad, Get William: The Authorship Question July 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Don't Get Mad, Get William: The Authorship Question

    Beachcombing has written over 750 posts in the last couple of years with 2786 emails received in that time: two a week at the beginning, about twenty a day now…. And he’s glad to say that only 4 of these emails have been rude, though lots of others have included polite raps over much bruised […]

    Bringing Back Flogging? July 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Bringing Back Flogging?

    Beachcombing thought that he would give a little publicity to a ‘rogue researcher’ today: a tag that refers to those who, with often commendable eccentricity, step outside the bounds laid down by their profession – Beachcombing is always on the look out for these rare souls, drbeachcombing DOT yahoo AT com. The RR in question […]

    Coke-head Spiders March 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Coke-head Spiders

        Beachcombing is having a bad day. First Little Miss B keeps on waking up with the screaming eejey weejees and second, Gary V, writes in to tell Beach that he meant Frederick I (Barbarossa) rather than Frederick II in yesterday’s post. The shame, the shame… The worst single accuracy disaster since Beachcombing misquoted […]

    German Naturalists, Electric Eels and Horse Fishing December 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    German Naturalists, Electric Eels and Horse Fishing

    Beachcombing mixes and matches his posts. If Beachcombing gets carried away with a theme – he has to confess to an Atlantis itch this week – then he tries to let at least a few days pass before he returns to that subject. However, every so often the excitement gets too much for him and he […]

    Classicists and the Other Side December 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Classicists and the Other Side

    Beachcombing recently opened up a new tag on ‘Rogue Researchers’, lovable academics who have left the bounds of their respectable (and incredibly tedious) colleagues by, say, talking to spirits at archaeological digs, boiling dormice alive or, a personal Beachcombing favourite, re-enacting Mayan heart removal on Mexican John Does. And today he wants to induct a […]

    The Crocodile, the Dog and the Wardrobe December 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Crocodile, the Dog and the Wardrobe

    Beachcombing always enjoys the passion with which nineteenth-century naturalists captured and then observed their prey, from sugaring early gas lamps to taking out the rifle whenever a rare bird flew into their garden. He particularly enjoyed this passage (just sent in by a correspondent) from the works of that German polymath Alexander von Humboldt (1859), […]

    J. Norman Emerson and Intuitive Archeology November 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    J. Norman Emerson and Intuitive Archeology

    You, the archaeologist, are presented with a green hill far away and told to dig. ‘Back in the day’ – Beachcombing is thinking of happy times in the happy nineteenth century – you would have simply hired out a little brawn from a nearby town and blitzed said hillside with spades and picks. No pension contributions, […]

    Boiling mice in the name of history October 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Boiling mice in the name of history

    It is widely known, Beachcombing believes, that the Romans ate dormice. Despite sumptuary laws forbidding the practice – dormice were an indulgence – they were fattened in gardens and kept in winter in a glirarium (a large ceramic jar) to prevent them hibernating (and becoming thin…). They were then cooked, stuffed with  pine kernels, garum, […]

    The return of Mayan-style human sacrifice June 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The return of Mayan-style human sacrifice

                        Beachcombing loves the way that some of the best historical stories hide behind the most oblique academic titles. Take, for example, Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina, ‘Procedures in Human Heart Extraction and Ritual Meaning: A Taphonomic Assessment of Anthropogenic Marks in Classic Maya Skeletons’ (Latin […]