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  • The Allendale Wolf January 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Allendale Wolf

    As this has been the season of the werewolf Beachcombing thought that today he would introduce the last English wolf, for yes, unfortunately the British Isles no longer have any of the howling ones. The conventional answer – and Beachcombing, in happier days, planned a book on British Dodos – is that the last English […]

    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot December 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot

      In the ancient Mediterranean parrots were an exotic bird. They were rare, they were multicoloured and they could even repeat human words more convincingly than the native mimics: starlings, magpies and nightingales. Understandably, then, when they appeared, they were attention-grabbers. Indeed, in some periods of antiquity Beachcombing can barely read a source without tripping […]

    Homer Hasenpflug Dubs and Roman Legionaries in Ancient China December 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Homer Hasenpflug Dubs and Roman Legionaries in Ancient China

    Drum roll, trumpet blast enter Homer Hasenpflug Dubs (obit 1969) an American-born Oxford don with a name that sounds as it it was purloined from an 1890s feel-good novel. Homer, to friends, was a capable if eccentric sinologist based out of ‘the other place’ for most of his teaching life. He wrote – as was […]

    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station? December 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station?

    Beachcombing is rapidly coming down with flu at the moment and so will have to satisfy himself with a short post today. He will, in fact, take the reader to nineteenth-century central London, at a time when St Pancras Station (opened 1868) was being built up and connected. Beachcombing – sick or well - loves stations because they are vortexes of anarchy and […]

    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung October 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung

    Pytheas of Marseille was a Greek sailing captain who, in the fourth century BC, ventured from the comfortable and known Mediterranean out into the northern Atlantic describing what he found there. Later generations believed that Pytheas was a fantasist and decried him. But, from the bits and pieces of Pytheas’ work that have survived – […]

    Antique Christians in Furthest China October 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Antique Christians in Furthest China

    Beachcombing has often visited in these pages his favourite WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments from history. And today he takes the gentle reader to another this time in China in honour of his mother and step-father who have recently fled the dominions for a holiday in the Far East. It is 1625 and the gutsy Portuguese […]

    Ten Thousand Romans in Turkmenistan September 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ten Thousand Romans in Turkmenistan

    There are many reasons for which individuals have travelled a long way from home in history: money, love, fear… But a vitally important and generally overlooked motive is imprisonment. Soldiers taken in battle have often (and very sensibly) been moved from where they were captured to the furthest possible point from their own country to avoid […]

    The Tiv and Hamlet September 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Tiv and Hamlet

    Laura Bohannan (aka Elenore Smith Bowen) was an anthropologist who came out of Oxford in the late 1940s. She did research with her husband Paul among the Tiv of Nigeria and the pair published several books on this federation over the next two decades. However, Bohannan also gave a remarkable BBC radio talk entitled, depending on […]

    A Medieval Coin in New England Soil September 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Medieval Coin in New England Soil

    After much interest in the long-travelling Helgö Buddha Beachcombing is pleased to introduce a more controversial wrong-place piece, an eleventh-century Viking coin that allegedly ended up in New England’s soil several generations before Columbus. The Maine Penny, as it called, was found by an ‘amateur’ (an ugly word for archaeologists) at the Goddard site near the mouth […]

    The Buddha Converts to Catholicism August 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Buddha Converts to Catholicism

    Dream last night in which Beachcombing was forced to sit and write an exam by his (terrifying) secondary school science teacher. The subject? Krishna naturally. Taking this as an omen of sorts Beachcombing has determined that today he will delve into Eastern religion and tell the scandalous story of the Christian saint Josaphat and his […]

    The Buddha in Viking Sweden August 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Buddha in Viking Sweden

                    Beachcombing thought that today he would revisit a classic anomalous archaeological find: the Helgö Buddha. Knowing though his personal weaknesses, he first did some deep breathing exercises before the mirror repeating a score of times: ‘be nice about the Vikings’, ‘be nice about the Vikings’, ‘be nice […]

    Roman legionaries in Central Asia? August 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Roman legionaries in Central Asia?

                        Beachcombing has written before about Roman penetration into central Asia and even possible direct contacts between Rome and the Chinese Imperial court. Tonight he wants, instead, to look at a claim that Romans – it is argued legionaries – visited western Uzbekistan close to Afghanistan […]

    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea August 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea

    Beachcombing has looked in a previous post at supposed direct contact between the Roman Empire and China in the second century. Today he will not be attempting to take the Romans so far to the east – but he will still be going an impressive way into Central Asia. Azerbaijan to be exact. It should […]

    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936 July 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936

                                    Night four of Beachcombing’s Elephant week extravaganza is taken up by Richard Halliburton’s attempt to cross the Alps in 1936 on the back of an African elephant. Halliburton, a fun kind of fellow, managed to hire (and insure!) an […]

    Elephants in Eighth-century Honduras? July 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Elephants in Eighth-century Honduras?

                                                                    For the third night of Elephant Week, ‘the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal’, Beachcombing wants to share a remarkable series of images […]

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