Situated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies and political systems met, clashed, and absorbed one another. In The Great Sea David Abulafia gives a sweeping account of these grand exchanges and their effects on the rise and fall of empires through the ages.
Mediterranean history has often been written as the history of the lands surrounding the sea, but Abulafia will focus his narrative on the stories of its transitory human inhabitants: the merchants, pirates, and war fleets who have sometimes gained control of the sea's exits and entrances-the Straits of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, or the Ionian Sea-and patrolled the intervening waters to ensure that ships from rival empires or cities do not intrude. Other significant groups who have crossed back and forth include refugees, missionaries, and tourists--for example, the Jewish Diaspora that spread by sea into the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. And no history of the Mediterranean would be complete without telling of the numerous and more permanent peoples who made their homes in the many islands moored in the sea, from Sicily, the largest, to strategic dots such as the Spanish bases off Morocco, and the mass of tiny islands out of which Venice came to life.
The Great Sea is above all the history of human interaction across a space that brought together many of the great civilizations of antiquity in a "grand marketplace for the exchange of goods and ideas."
- Europe / General
- October 3, 2011
- October 13, 2011
- David Abulafia