Ancient Maritime World

Workshop – Summer School – Research

The Maritime World of Classical Antiquity

From the Late Bronze Age to Late Antiquity the history of classical antiquity was to a large extent a maritime history and in many ways influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, its conditions and opportunities. The mare mediterraneum was the crucial factor for the spread of cultures as well as for the emergence and development of numerous coastal settlements – many of which still exist today as larger cities. It also gave rise to several maritime powers, such as the Phoenicians, Athenians or Carthaginians, as well as to piracy in its various forms. With imperial Rome and its political supremacy over the Mediterranean world, the opportunities and prosperity of a large, interconnected and enclosed maritime world then became apparent for the first time on this geographical scale. But also before and for centuries, the sea enabled easy connections over long distances and a largely free exchange of goods and culture. And because of the sea, one can certainly speak of a globalised Mediterranean world already at a very early stage.

Nevertheless, the various conditions in individual areas of the Mediterranean could hardly have been more diverse. Unlike today, navigation and trade routes were particularly dependent on regional and supra-regional meteorological conditions as well as on the specific natural environment. Furthermore, the hinterland of coastal regions offered various influences. Whereas the sea in antiquity was always both a connecting and a dividing element – and in terms of cultural and historical development the 'simultaneity of the non-simultaneous' was not the exception but the rule.

The Ancient Maritime World

The Ancient Maritime World takes a detailed look at the maritime contexts of classical antiquity. It focuses on both the complexity of historical development as well as the underlying and determining factors in given cases. Early epochs such as the Mycenaean or Archaic times offered specific and, in many aspects, different historical conditions than, for example, the Roman Empire or Late Antiquity. And preceding socio-historical conditions, local natural potential or technical know-how are just some of the influencing factors. In any case, it is the sum of these diverse influences that led to the respective historical-cultural characteristics and to how classical antiquity evolved in general.

Travelling the sea thereby provides a deeper understanding of historical circumstances and offers many opportunities to trace and analyse the respective conditions – especially in practical terms of historical settings. It offers a more thorough understanding of ancient time and space, as well as of the opportunities, difficulties and dangers of the sea. And it can certainly open up a closer look at the crucial points of historical change and cultural interrelations – and thus not least of their critical consideration.

International Workshop / Summer School – Ancient Maritime World VI

In Odysseus' Home Waters

from/to Lefkada – Sept 2023