The Corrupting Sea
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The Corrupting Sea : A Study of Mediterranean History

By (author) Peregrine Horden , By (author) Nicholas Purcell

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The Corrupting Sea is a history of the relationship between people and their environments in the Mediterranean region over some 3,000 years. It advocates a novel analysis of this relationship in terms of microecologies and the often extensive networks to which they belong. This is the first major work since Braudel's The Mediterranean to address the problems of studying the area as a whole and on a long time-scale. The authors emphasize the value of comparison between prehistory, Antiquity and the Middle Ages. They draw on an exceptionally wide range of evidence - literary works, documents, archaeology, scientific reports and social anthropology. The themes addressed include past conceptions of the Mediterranean, its historiography, the history of primary production, the rhythms of exchange and communication, the pace of environmental and technological change, the geography of religion, and the contribution of Mediterranean social anthropology to an assessment of the region's unity. The book offers a provocative and innovative approach to the history of the Mediterranean, explaining what has made Mediterranean history distinctive.

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  • Paperback | 776 pages
  • 170 x 244 x 42mm | 1,338.09g
  • 14 Apr 2000
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • BLACKWELL PUBLISHERS
  • Oxford
  • English
  • 0631218904
  • 9780631218906
  • 150,455

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Author Information

Peregrine Horden is Professor of Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London. Nicholas Purcell is Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History, St John's College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. They began studying Mediterranean history when both were Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford.

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Review quote

"The Corrupting Sea is a book that all classicists should read." Classical Review "In their book The Corrupting Sea, Horden and Purcell have engaged in one of the most relentless intellectual reassessments to have been undertaken in recent times of the history of the pre-industrial Mediterranean. One seldom emerges from a book as rich as this, having had so many firmly-held notions shaken out of one's mind and having glimpsed so many enthralling new vistas on a once-familiar past." Professor Peter Brown, Princeton University "To bring together the economic and social history of so many periods and places within the great story of the Mediterranean is a remarkable achievement and Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell should be congratulated upon it." Professor Colin Renfrew, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge "In recreating the Mediterranean for the new millennium, the authors offer a substantial achievement that challenges many long-held assumptions not only about the Mediterranean, but also about human relations with the environment and even the very nature of historical writing. It certainly deserves to provoke discussion among scholars from fields as broad as its own grand scope." Times Higher Education Supplement "The Corrupting Sea is a book of magisterial synthesis and scholarship - a huge multi-disciplinary literature turned into a narrative that is at once comprehensive, enjoyable, quirky and thought-provoking." Antiquity "This book will be indispensable for the serious student of the Mediterranean past and present." CHOICE "This is an important book that presents a powerful and original model of Mediterranean history that will be used, debated, and criticized by historians of all periods for years to come." English Historical Review "Horden and Purcell's new Mediterranean panorama, which will take a generation of historians to digest and implement, forms one of those manifest watersheds in the study of antiquity." Journal of Roman Archaeology "This book amounts to an often fascinating, and unerringly useful, compendium." International History Review "Here a generation of ecological historians ... has led the way. Horden and Purcell have synthesized that literature, extended its reach into the Middle Ages, and made it accessible to the general medievalist." Speculum "This impressive work synthesizes a vast amount of historical, geographical, archaelogical, and ethnographic knowledge about the Mediterranean region." Historical Geography

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Back cover copy

"The Corrupting Sea" is a history of the relationship between people and their environments in the Mediterranean region over some 3,000 years. It advocates a novel analysis of this relationship in terms of microecologies and the often extensive networks to which they belong. This is the first major work since Braudel's The Mediterranean to address the problems of studying the area as a whole and on a long time-scale. The authors emphasize the value of comparison between prehistory, Antiquity and the Middle Ages. They draw on an exceptionally wide range of evidence - literary works, documents, archaeology, scientific reports and social anthropology.

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