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  • Water Thief Watcher January 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Water Thief Watcher

    In distant days I opened a tag on WCIH, ‘the worst careers in history’ and, before things fizzled out, I made the case for precolumbian sacrificial victims and the Galeotti. Here today is a new one to reopen the series, the Water Thief Watcher. Now for those without a degree in timekeeping the water thief […]

    The First Sub-Saharan Africans in China? November 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The First Sub-Saharan Africans in China?

    The following extraordinary passage appears in a twelfth-century Chinese text, by one Zhu Yu. The text is entitled Pingzhou Chats on Things Worthwhile – the Chinese have such a way with titles – and has several treasures. Consider though this passage and the wildmen. The wealthy in Guangzho maintain numerous foreign slaves. These slaves are […]

    Indonesians in Medieval Africa October 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Indonesians in Medieval Africa

    Despite all the excitement about the use of DNA in history, those elusive strands have so far proved surprisingly unhelpful in our text books. The problem is that populations with similar DNA live close to each other and that it is next to impossible to give a chronological breakdown of when a given locality changes […]

    The Queen of Cuba, Mermaids and a Far-Swimming Slave October 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Queen of Cuba, Mermaids and a Far-Swimming Slave

    ***Thanks to Invisible for the gem below*** 7 August 1871 this appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle, having apparently been excerpted from the Richmond Dispatch. The story’s title was Saved by Mermaids: A Story which Lacks Confirmation, one way of being polite about an enjoyable farrago. Apologies ahead of time for the racist tone of parts […]

    Children of the Dung Heap September 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Children of the Dung Heap

    There are some strange surnames if you take care to look around. And the present author knows of what he speaks: being called Beachcombing gets you some very curious looks in post-offices and at border crossings… But Beach’s personal favourite from history is the Greco-Egyptian name Kopr- (with many derivatives) meaning, of course, ‘dung’. These […]

    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

    ***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

    The Slave Free Centuries February 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Slave Free Centuries

    Slavery is regrettably everywhere in the past. It underlies all the great achievements of Antiquity: when Plato was discoursing on the immortality of the soul there were Syrian dancing girls and Scythian catamites lining up in the background. European colonialism grew under the shadow of the chain: it used to be said that the streets […]

    Slaves for Sale February 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Slaves for Sale

    Beachcombing has recently become interested in slavery, a matter that he has neglected in previous posts, with the exception of a very unpleasant beating in Colonial American and an early piece on the Barbary Coast. Beach has particularly been impressed/horrified by slave adverts and has stumbled on several remarkable examples. Let’s start off with something […]

    The Cha-Cha of the Dahomey August 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Cha-Cha of the Dahomey

    While reading up on the Amazons of the Dahomey kingdom (Benin) a long month ago, Beach came across a fascinating if little known figure, Francisco Felix De  Souza (obit 1849). De  Souza was a Brazilian merchant who came to the West Coast of Africa in the early nineteenth century and set up a huge slave […]

    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 […]

    Numbers and the White Slave Trade August 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Numbers and the White Slave Trade

                              Numbers are hobgoblins in history, especially prior to the beginning of grown-up records in the late nineteenth century. How many people lived in Roman Britain? Well, in the last forty years estimates have ranged from a couple of hundred thousand to six million. […]