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  • A Monkey in the Late Roman Army December 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Monkey in the Late Roman Army

    Do you remember the ape buried in Iron Age Ireland? Well, here is a cousin, who also travelled far from home. In 2001 a monkey, a macaque, in fact, was dug up at Iulia Libica (Llívia), a late Roman settlement in the Pyrenees. He was, at death, 78 cms tall: a young male. It goes without […]

    Roman Bowl in Ancient Japan?! December 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Bowl in Ancient Japan?!

    Thanks to Ed for this story! This blog has long pioneered wrong place objects, artifacts that turn up thousands of miles from where archaeologists would have expected to find them. So how about a round of applause for this beautiful blue glass bowl that was removed from a tomb in the Nara prefecture in Japan […]

    Persians and Romans at the Ends of the Earth December 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Persians and Romans at the Ends of the Earth

    The story is a simple one. A Roman and a Persian arrive by boat at the same time in a foreign port. Both are taken off to see the king (suggesting that the visitors were actually dignitaries) and the king decides to provoke them ‘Which of your kings is the greater and the more powerful?’ Of course, […]

    Roman Adventures in Ethiopia November 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Roman Adventures in Ethiopia

    There is absolutely no doubt that Roman merchants passed down the Red Sea and traded with the Ethiopians. But how exciting when every so often we see more than just coins and broken pots. Here is an account of some Roman Syrians who had visited India in the early fourth century AD (for philosophical purposes!) […]

    Speaking to Tens of Thousands Before Battle: Is it Possible? October 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Speaking to Tens of Thousands Before Battle: Is it Possible?

    Beach worried to day about speeches before battle in ancient and medieval times. If you have read any Roman or Greek historian then you know the drill. General stands up before his army, makes a few choice reflections on why his men are fighting,  and then the army goes out, inspired, and trashes or is […]

    Immortal Meals 17#: Eating with Attila October 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals 17#: Eating with Attila

    From about 400 to about 1200 there are pitifully few western witness accounts: almost all experiences are filtered through poetry, hagiography, or legal documents. We don’t really see scenes or meet characters: there are names and there are gilded set pieces (a wedding, a miracle, a battle). This makes the exceptions so much more exciting… […]

    Faking History on the Internet: Romans Invade Ireland October 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    Faking History on the Internet: Romans Invade Ireland

    ***Thanks to Louis for help with this story*** The following is a parable about how history is written on the internet. Let’s imagine you have a web page and you want people to visit it. How could you get the history scoop of 2014? Well you could go and bribe some doctorate students, ask for […]

    Last of the British? September 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Last of the British?

    There are sixty million Britons, yet if you go house to house through England, Wales, Scotland and the six counties you will find that relatively few people actually define themselves in this way. If a family from Glasgow, Cardiff or Sheffield turn up in a French hotel they will probably write (under nationality) respectively: ‘Scottish’, […]

    Love Goddess #11: Astarte’s Pierced Nipples September 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Love Goddess #11: Astarte's Pierced Nipples

    Astarte was one of those bitter-bitter eastern Mediterranean dieties, all smiles and pubic triangles until she wanted your elder son as a human sacrifice… Her name is arguably Punic and may have meant ‘womb’, but, again, fertility and bloodshed went together spectacularly well among the Phonecians so no baby rattles or wedding showers just yet. There […]

    Earliest Written Reference to Britannia? September 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Earliest Written Reference to Britannia?

    Female personifications of nations…. There is frigid Italia (with towers growing out of her head), France has psychotic Marianne drinking aristocratic blood, Uncle Sam sometimes flirted with French Liberty and Eriu (Ireland to Sassenach neighbours) was a hag who bedded warriors, but best of all there is sweet Britannia with a shield, trident and snooty outlook […]

    Roman Killing Theatre August 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Roman Killing Theatre

    The Romans, as is well known, had a particular genius for killing and for all their precious disgust at human sacrifice (the Empire banned human sacrifice wherever they found it) gladiatorial displays, occasional acts of genocide and public executions were all to the good. The most unusual aspect of Roman public executions was the willingness […]

    Female Poison Circles July 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Female Poison Circles

    As is well known periodically through history groups of frustrated women have banded together to poison their violent, somnolent, poor or idiotic husbands. Six or sixty or one hundred and fifty would  find a local gypsy who sold tastless, colourless (in short undetectable) poisons and then run home and start dosing gins and tonics or […]

    Burning Libraries: A Saucy Roman History Book July 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Libraries: A Saucy Roman History Book

    This blogger remembers some sweaty hours reading Robert Graves’ translation of Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars, Roman history reduced to salacious tabloid gossip. The sex, the violence, the sex, the poison, the magic, the sex and, of course, that swimming pool… But once Suetonius stops writing Roman history lovers have almost nothing until Ammianus Marcelinus’ surviving […]

    Romans and Matron Poisoners: 190 Killed June 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans and Matron Poisoners: 190 Killed

    331 BC was a very bad year in Rome. Livy (obit 17 AD) is our only record for the catastrophe. I include here an online translation from 8, 18 (with some slight changes) and the Latin as I hate translating ‘the Padovan’. The foremost men in the State were being attacked by the same illness, […]

    African Ape in Iron Age Ireland? June 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    African Ape in Iron Age Ireland?

    So here’s a teaser. The Barbary ape is an African primate whose only toehold on the European continent is at Gibraltar, where a tiny population has survived into modern times. How, then, did a Barbary Ape get to Co Armagh in Northern Ireland in the Iron Age? Archaeologists have waxed lyrical over the find of […]

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