Cover image for The Mediterranean in history
The Mediterranean in history
Abulafia, David.
Publication Information:
Los Angeles, Calif. : J. Paul Getty Museum ; London : Thames & Hudson, [2003]

Physical Description:
320 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 29 cm
What is the Mediterranean? / Physical setting / First trading empires : prehistory to c. 1000 BC / Battle for the sea routes, 1000-300 BC / Creation of Mare Nostrum, 300 BC-500 AD / Mediterranean breaks up, 500-1000 / A Christian Mediterranean, 1000-1500 / Resurgent Islam, 1500-1700 / Mediterranean as a battleground of the European powers, 1700-1900 / A globalized Mediterranean, 1900-2000
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D973 .M36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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Contained in this history of the "Great Sea" are the stories of the birth of Western Civilization, the clash of warring faiths, and the rivalries of empires.
David Abulafia leads a team of eight distinguished historians in an exploration of the great facts, themes and epochs of this region's history: the physical setting; the rivalry between Carthaginians, Greeks, and Etruscans for control of the sea routes; unification under Rome and the subsequent break up into Western Christendom, Byzantium, and Islam; the Crusades; commerce in medieval times; the Ottoman resurgence; the rivalry of European powers from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries; and the globalization of the region in the last century.
The book departs from the traditional view of Mediterranean history, which placed emphasis on the overwhelming influences of physical geography on the molding of the region's civilizations. Instead, this new interpretation regards that physical context as a staging ground for decisive action, and at center stage are human catalysts at all levels of society-whether great kings and emperors, the sailors of medieval Amalfi, or the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. The authors do more than simply catalogue the societies that developed in the region, but also describe how these groups interacted with one another across the sea, enjoying commercial and political ties as well as sharing ideas and religious beliefs.
This richly illustrated book offers contemporary historical writing at its best and is sure to engage specialists, students, and general readers alike.

Author Notes

David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at the University of Cambridge, England, and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This is a lushly illustrated, sweeping overview of the Mediterranean region by eight historians. Each writes about a specific period, but all describe the sea as the most important feature of the area, where the beguilingly varied cultures have lined the coasts, appearing and vanishing over the centuries, and have traded and warred with each other. Except for Egyptian civilization, self-contained and usually safe in the Nile Valley, the Mediterranean presented both danger and opportunity--the fact that the Romans were the only ones to ever unify it shows how susceptible it has been to shifts in power, especially naval power, which is presented as a history-making factor in every writer's essay, as is another historical constant: the geographical and climatic environment. Within these structures, the authors depict the daily workings of commerce and the conflicts of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, their observations always accentuated by photographs and drawings. A lovely production that will whet both eye and mind. --Ray Olson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Choice Review

This handsomely produced volume is a product of the Braudel school of history, which sees the Mediterranean as a cultural unit transcending national boundaries and individual histories. The opening chapter--"The Physical Setting," by Oliver Rackham--is succeeded by a series of chronologically arranged essays from prehistory to the present. As in all collaborations, the writing is uneven. Some chapters, such as those by Molly Greene ("Resurgent Islam, 1500-1700") and Geoffrey Rickman ("The Creation of Mare Nostrum, 300 BC-500 AD") are interesting and highly readable. Others are confusingly dense with battles and names, assuming a great deal of prior knowledge on the part of readers. It is hard to tell exactly who the intended audience is. The copiously illustrated coffee-table format and the lack of footnotes suggest a popular readership, but the difficulties of some of the chapters and a bibliography with numerous works in foreign languages suggest an academic one. Most surprising, the book has only one minimalist map. Readers should settle down with a good historical atlas in hand. Many well-chosen color illustrations. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. E. Edson Piedmont Virginia Community College

Table of Contents

David AbulafiaOliver RackhamMarlene SuanoMario TorelliGeoffrey RickmanJohn PryorMichel BalardMolly GreeneJeremy BlackDavid Abulafia
Prefacep. 9
Introduction: What is the Mediterranean?p. 11
1 The physical settingp. 33
2 The first trading empires: prehistory to c.1000 BCp. 67
3 The battle for the sea routes: 1000--300 BCp. 99
4 The creation of Mare Nostrum: 300 BC--500 ADp. 127
5 The Mediterranean breaks up: 500--1000p. 155
6 A Christian Mediterranean: 1000--1500p. 183
7 Resurgent Islam: 1500--1700p. 219
8 The Mediterranean as a battleground of the European powers: 1700--1900p. 251
9 A globalized Mediterranean: 1900--2000p. 283
Further readingp. 313
Sources of illustrationsp. 317
Indexp. 319