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Lecture

The Ancient Mediterranean World Travel, Trade, Eastern Neighbours, Physical Greek Environment


Department
History
Course Code
HIST 2100
Professor
Jeremy Trevett

Page:
of 3
Lecture 2
The Ancient Mediterranean World
Fernand Braudel (1902-1985)
o The Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II
o Interested in effect of geography on history
o Different speeds of historical time
Time of events
Social change
Environmental change
o Saw political events as ephemeral
Unimportant
o Meaning and the Mediterranean looks at Mediterranean in antiquity
o Compare Marxist emphasis on production
Are people exploiters or exploited?
o 90% of population was engaged in farming
o 3 levels of history
Surface Stream
Wars, etc.
Fast-moving
Underlying stream
Social change
Slower-moving history
Bottom Stream
Environmental change
o Geographical
Almost motionless
Travel
o Land travel
Slow
Difficult
Costly
Mountainous terrain
o Sea Travel
Greeks tended to live on or near coast
“like frogs around a pond” (Plato)
Weather and currents
Make sailing dangerous
Sailing season was in the summer
o Dangerous to sail after autumn
Summer north winds made northward sailing difficult
Piracy
Danger of enslavement
To avoid, sailors would stay near to the coast
o In-sight of land
Odysseus beset by storms sent by Poseidon
Black sea called Euxine
Means hospitable
o Called this in the hope that it would become
hospitable
Particularly storms water
Trade
o Long-distance trade generally carried out by sea
o Traded commodities
Food
Slaves
Metal
Pottery
Goods
o Uneven distribution of resources made trade absolutely necessary
Greece’s Eastern Neighbors
o The Greco-Roman world must not be looked at in isolation
o Martin Bernal, Black Athena: The Afro-Asiatic Roots of Classical
Civilization
Bernal argues for deliberate downplaying in 19th century of
links with near east and Egypt
o Phoenicians and Egyptians in Odyssey
o Phoenician alphabet gave rise to origin of Greek alphabet
o Egypt
See Herodotus Book II for Greek fascination with its antiquity
Nile valley
Major source of grain
Linen
Papyrus reed
o Used for paper
Very important Greek exporter
o Phoenician
Trading people on coast of modern Lebanon
Major Phoenician cities
Tyre
Siden
Byblos
o Hittites
Hittusa
Central Asia Minor
Physical Environment of Greece
o Mountains dominated the landscape
Encouraged political fragmentation
o Lack of major rivers and well-watered plains
o “Poverty is Greece’s inheritance from of old” Herodotus VII.102
o Mediterranean climate (except in northwest)
Hot/dry summers
Cool, wet winters
o Threat of draught