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Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers October 14, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers

***Dedicated to Amanda and BFM*** Bad Archaeology, a necessarily quarrelsome but very worthwhile corner of the internet, is presently hosting an article on Out of Place Artefacts: objects that have turned up in places or in times where they would not be expected. As readers of Strange History will know the present author has frequently […]

Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa October 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa

By the mid first century AD the Roman Empire had run against four limits, limits that its subjects would never overcome: in the west, the Atlantic; in the north, the German tribes (thanks Varus); in the east, the ‘Persian’ Empire and its successors; and in the south, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert beyond. […]

The Origins of One-Foot September 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
The Origins of One-Foot

***Dedicated to Leif*** Humanity has the habit of peopling the edges of its maps with unusual creatures: the ‘there-be-dragons’ phenomenon. We have previously on this blog looked at dog-heads, for example, both in relation to India and Ethiopia. Dog-heads can be explained, as perhaps can unicorns and even dragons and cyclops. But how do you […]

The Buckle That Came In From The Cold July 14, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Buckle That Came In From The Cold

***Dedicated to Mike Z who sent this one in*** Beach has made it his business to put up here records of objects from the past that end up hundreds or better still thousands of miles away from where they should have been found. Recent examples have included Roman glass beads in, ahem, Japan and Roma […]

Romans in Japan?! June 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Romans in Japan?!

***Dedicated to all these who sent this in: sorry I’ve misplaced the list!*** Beach has long since pioneered the wrong place, wrong time tags that set out examples of artifacts, languages, ideas and even DNA turning up in unexpected places or unexpected time periods. These have included such wonders as the last Latin speakers of […]

Exclaves! June 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
Exclaves!

A strange post today – just for a change… Beach has recently been troubled by the Kaliningrad Oblast, a peculiar bit of Russian territory that stands several hundred kilometres to the west of the Russian frontiers. Now an exclave of Russian life on the borders of Poland and Lithuania, Kalingrad would be just the kind […]

A Romani Mystery in Eleventh-Century England March 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Romani Mystery in Eleventh-Century England

***Dedicated to Stephen D*** Our knowledge of the ancient and medieval movements of peoples depends on extraordinarily inadequate contemporary sources and the  deadly (and often unsupported) prejudices of historians and archaeologists. But now, with the use of DNA sampling and other techniques, including isotope analysis, science is coming to the rescue: giving us surprising insights […]

Japanese Torpedo Boats in the Baltic March 8, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Japanese Torpedo Boats in the Baltic

In 1904 the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, ordered his Baltic navy to travel around the world to take on the Japanese (who had already destroyed Nicholas’ Pacific fleet). It proved an extraordinary ‘voyage of the damned’ as almost forty Russian ships, including five capital ships sailed towards their doom at the hands of the able […]

A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery January 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery

There is a cute game that academics play where the more exciting the results of your research the more boring your abstract must be. Take the following tedious example from the 2011 American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Read through the miasma of low-key, lead on sentences and consider what an extraordinary discovery has allegedly been […]

Turkish in Medieval Cambodia? December 6, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Turkish in Medieval Cambodia?

An incredibly busy day today – exams are drawing near – and so Beach is going to put up a cheat post with apologies, using an extract sent in by a reader. This appeared a couple of weeks ago and was pasted under a previous post on Amazons. However, Beachcombing is not interested, at least […]

The Zambian Space Programme of 1962 December 4, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Zambian Space Programme of 1962

One of the problems of looking for the bizarre in history is that, after a while, you’ve read everything before: mermaid funerals in the Hebrides, tick; bats used in bombs against Japan, tick; Roman legionaries in China, tick… But then every so often something comes along that is fresh and that has completely escaped your […]

From Vienna to the Baltic in Roman Times November 28, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient

  A couple of rarely examined sentences in Pliny’s Natural History (37,45) give the outline of a grand old Roman adventure in the times of the Emperor Nero (54 AD 68 AD). There are about 600 miles from Carnuntum [Roman camp close to Vienna] in Pannonia to the shores of Germany from which amber is […]

American Indian Settlers in Iceland? November 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
American Indian Settlers in Iceland?

Iceland, the tiny nation floating between Britain and Greenland, has been isolated for much of its history. This isolation has given the island two extraordinary resources: one is a spectacular landscape, untainted by industrialisation (see above); and the second is a closed DNA pool. A closed DNA pool = an extraordinary resource? In days gone […]

A Rhinoceros in Eighteenth-Century London November 5, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
A Rhinoceros in Eighteenth-Century London

   Beach has a longstanding thing about elephants (see many previous posts and many posts to come) and has been wondering recently about opening up a second front on the rhinoceros: a distant reading of a text about Romans importing this beast for their games has been jumping up and down in his head. He […]

Suger’s Sherbert Holder October 13, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Suger's Sherbert Holder

In previous posts Beachcombing has celebrated objects that have long and interesting histories: take, for example, the Baltic buddhas, Cellini’s canon or the Dauphin’s heart. It was with some excitement then that he just recently stumbled upon a vase that made, in the Middle Ages, its way from Moorish Spain through the hands of several […]

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