Facing the Ocean

Facing the Ocean : The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 BC to AD 1500

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In this highly illustrated book Barry Cunliffe focuses on the western rim of Europe--the Atlantic facade--an area stretching from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Isles of Shetland.We are shown how original and inventive the communities were, and how they maintained their own distinctive identities often over long spans of time. Covering the period from the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, c. 8000 BC, to the voyages of discovery c. AD 1500, he uses this last half millennium more as a well-studied test case to help the reader better understand what went before. The beautiful illustrations show how this picturesque part of Europe has many striking physical similarities. Old hard rocks confront the ocean creating promontories and capes familiar to sailors throughout the millennia. Land's End, Finistere, Finisterra--until the end of the fifteenth century this was where the world ended in a turmoil of ocean beyond which there was nothing. To the people who lived in these remote places the sea was their means of communication and those occupying similar locations were their neighbours.
The communities frequently developed distinctive characteristics intensifying aspects of their culture the more clearly to distinguish themselves from their in-land neighbours. But there is an added level of interest here in that the sea provided a vital link with neighbouring remote-place communities encouraging a commonality of interest and allegiances. Even today the Bretons see themselves as distinct from the French but refer to the Irish, Welsh, and Galicians as their brothers and cousins. Archaeological evidence from the prehistoric period amply demonstrates the bonds which developed and intensified between these isolated communities and helped to maintain a shared but distinctive Atlantic identity.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 608 pages
  • 161.5 x 254 x 33mm | 1,564.91g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 150 b&w, 24 pp. colour (32 colour illustrations)
  • 0192853554
  • 9780192853554

Table of contents

1. Perceptions of the Ocean; 2. Between Land and Sea; 3. Ships and Sailors; 4. The Emergence of an Atlantic Identity: 8000-4000 BC; 5. Ancestors and Ritual Landscapes: 4000-2700 BC; 6. Expanding Networks and the Rise of the Individual: 2700-1200 BC; 7. Sailors on the Two Oceans: 1200 200 BC; 8. Restating Identity: 1200-200 BC; 9. The Impact of Rome: 200 BC-AD 200; 10. Migrants and Settlers in the Early Middle Ages: AD 200-800; 11. The Coming of the Northmen; 12. New Centres, New Peripheries: AD 1000-1500; 13. The Longue Duree; A Guide to Further Reading
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About Barry Cunliffe

Barry Cunliffe is Professor of European Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.
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Review quote

'Like its subject, this is a rich, deep book'
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Rating details

54 ratings
4.27 out of 5 stars
5 44% (24)
4 43% (23)
3 11% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 2% (1)
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