The Ancient Maritime World
Workshop – Summer School – Research
The Maritime World of Classical Antiquity
The history of classical antiquity is to a large extent a maritime history. From the Late Bronze Age to Late Antiquity, it was in many ways strongly influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, its conditions and opportunities. The mare mediterraneum was an essential factor for the emergence and development of numerous coastal communities as well as for the spread of cultures. It gave rise to various smaller and larger maritime powers, such as the Phoenicians, Athenians or Carthaginians, and was wholly dominated by Rome for more than two centuries. The sea enabled easy connections over long distances and a largely free exchange of goods and culture for centuries. And because of the sea, one can certainly speak of a globalised ancient Mediterranean world already at an 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 natural environment. The local and regional hinterland of individual coastal regions also offered factors of influence that were as different as they were various. 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 conditions than, for example, the Roman Empire or Late Antiquity. And preceding socio-historical conditions, local natural space potential or technical know-how are just some of the other 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 maritime 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 open up a closer look at the crucial points of historical change and cultural interrelations – and thus not least of their critical consideration.