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It is a fact universally acknowledged that an Inuit in possession… July 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
It is a fact universally acknowledged that an Inuit in possession…

Imagine Jane Austen at her writing desk while sister is downstairs playing the harpsichord. Suddenly there is an excited knock on the door and Cassandra comes running up the stairs. ‘Jane, tis so exciting, some Inuit have come to the Hall. George Cartwright brought them back from Labrador.’ Jane puts down her pen and passes […]

The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery July 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery

28 February 2013 the Indiana-University-Purdue-University sent out a press release announcing modestly: ‘IUPUI led expedition seeks source of thousand-year-old coins in Aboriginal Australia’. Nothing to see, move on? Well, it took the world’s press some time to catch on, the real interest only came in May. But, of course, ‘thousand’ year old coins in Australia […]

Turning Back the Years in Oz July 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Turning Back the Years in Oz

***With thanks to Invisible and Wade*** Consider a curious thing. Australian prehistory is far easier to rewrite than American prehistory. If you begin to question the route by which the Aborigines arrived in Australia, or posit an early Indian influx onto the continent or even begin to speculate about mahogany boats and seventeenth-century Caucasoid skulls […]

Indians in Australia, c. 2000 B.C.? May 28, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
Indians in Australia, c. 2000 B.C.?

 ***Beach dedicates this to an old friend of the blog, Wade, presently recuperating in hospital: the New York Changeling needs you, Wade!*** There is a case to be made for not writing about bizarre history research when it first comes out, but waiting six months for the shouting to die down. In six months new […]

Christian Indians in Sixteenth-Century Brazil? May 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Christian Indians in Sixteenth-Century Brazil?

Today a return to the Amazon and a passage from Carvajal’s journal of Orellana’s mad rush for the sea in 1542: the Spaniards were, it will be remembered, sailing down that river towards the Atlantic. Regular readers will recall that we dedicated a number of posts to this expedition to try and uncover more information […]

Inuit in Aberdeen? February 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Inuit in Aberdeen?

We previously enjoyed a brief visit to eighteenth-century Orkney (Scotland) and the mysterious Finnmen there, usually identified as Inuit. Here is a record from further south that seems to describe something similar. The Rev Francis Gastrell included in his diary this detail of his visit to Aberdeen in 1760: A canoe [pictured above] about seven […]

Italy’s Weird Languages February 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Italy's Weird Languages

Italy is chaotic not just in day-to-day but also in geographical terms. The Apennines that come down from the Alps dominate most of the country and separate out the peninsula into two hundred semi-independent shangrilas. The result is that Italy has always been doomed to social, cultural and linguistic division. Italian itself, the ‘dialect’ of […]

Thirteenth-century Viking Legend in Canada? January 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Thirteenth-century Viking Legend in Canada?

Did the Vikings believe that mythical outlaws dwelt on Canada’s Baffin Island, perhaps parallel to the outlaws of the Icelandic interior that we have looked at before on this blog? It seems unlikely given that Greenlanders – the closest ‘Vikings’ to Baffin – are not supposed by some to have visited North American after about […]

Tanfield Valley: Europeans in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island? January 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Tanfield Valley: Europeans in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island?

Tanfield Valley [A] is one of the most exciting sites to have come under the archaeologist’s trowel in the last fifty years: less golden but in its way as thrilling as Tutankhamen’s tomb. The valley – more a hollow – is an unusually green part of rocky Baffin Island and for five seasons, Patricia Sutherland, […]

Mysterious European Figure in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island December 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Mysterious European Figure in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island

A thirteenth- or fourteenth-century Thule ivory carving from southern Baffin Island in Canada should hardly surprise anyone. After all, the Thule Inuit did dwell in this place at that time. But when Debora Sabo dug up the carving pictured above in 1972 she was understandably jolted by her discovery, so much so that she dedicated […]

European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact December 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact

The idea of pre-Columbian contact between the Americas and Europe or even Africa has been one that has understandably excited a lot of attention. What are the possibilities that Europeans ended up in, say, Florida or that ‘Floridans’ made it to, say, Scandinavia in 1491? Well, in this post we are going to take the […]

American Indians in Galway, Ireland? November 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
American Indians in Galway, Ireland?

One of the most dramatic pieces of evidence for a pre-Columbian crossing of the Atlantic is to be found in a single Latin marginalia, that is some words scribbled into the margin of a book. The sentence in question appears in a copy of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini which was […]

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 […]

The Tara Harpoon: Eskimoes in the Irish Sea? November 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
The Tara Harpoon: Eskimoes in the Irish Sea?

***Dedicated to SD*** Time for a wrong place artefact that has been all but forgotten: the Tara Eskimo Harpoon. An Eskimo Harpoon in Tara? what is ‘wrong’ with that? Well, Tara is in County Down in Northern Ireland and the TEH was found at Millin Bay there in 1927 and was brought along to a […]

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 […]

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