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The Making of the Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World Paperback – 31 August 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 672 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0500292086
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0500292082
  • Customer reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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Review

'An almighty achievement … wonderfully elegant prose … fascinating, intelligent and well-written but also provocative and challenging' - Guardian

'A major intellectual feat … sets new standards in scholarship, coherence and readability' - Colin Renfrew, The Times Literary Supplement

'A fascinating story, beautifully told … the breadth of [Broodbrank’s] scholarship, his lively curiosity and insights, and his analysis of vast amounts of data, add up to a stunningly original tour de force … It’s what scholarship ought to look like' - Classics for All

About the Author

Cyprian Broodbank is Professor of Mediterranean Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. His previous book, An Island Archaeology of the Early Cyclades, won the James R. Wiseman award of the Archaeological Institute of America (for all fields of archaeology), and the Runciman Prize (for all fields of Hellenic Studies).

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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
John Henry
5.0 out of 5 stars Some preliminary comments On the Middle Sea
5 June 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
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18 people found this helpful
Samuel Pfister
4.0 out of 5 stars this still stands as a beautiful read of a new take on the history of ...
22 August 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
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One person found this helpful
Edward C. Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars In my opinion Chapter One badly needs editing. The ...
28 November 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
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4 people found this helpful
James B. Bleeker
5.0 out of 5 stars A Veritable Treasure
1 August 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Veritable Treasure
Reviewed in the United States on 1 August 2015
I will begin by saying that I enjoyed this book immensely, as much as David Anthony’s The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How the Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World and Jean Manco’s Ancestral Journeys. And while all of the 3 books offer detailed surveys, in addition Dr. Broodbank’s The Making of the Middle Sea offers a rich vocabulary and syntax, replete with modifiers – adjectives, adverbs, prepositional and infinitive phrases, subjunctive clauses, and appositives, that make his depictions of settings, cultures, transitions, and interactions a pleasure to read and often to savor, like a glass of Ipsus from Pantelleria. Also, the book offers a map at the beginning of each historical chapter locating nearly all of the sites discussed within the chapter (as well as a map at the beginning of the book identifying many of the important features of the Mediterranean basin), many pictures and graphics within each chapter exemplifying textual descriptions, and 49 photographs of important archaeological artifacts and sites on two sets of pages of plates.

Another strength, and possibly the book’s strongest feature, is the perspective that it offers. For the time period of each chapter, it discusses activities across the basin, the influences from outside the basin, and the interactions and networks within and beyond it. At least as importantly, it discusses the roles of climate in occasioning growth or conflict, depopulation and urban abandonments, the opportunities or stimulus in some regions imparted by the perturbations in another, and the contributions of scattered distributions of resources, advances in shipping transport, growth in population and pleasures of wine consumption in converting the Sea from barrier to medium of commerce and cultural convergence. Of particular note is Dr. Broodbank’s analysis and discussion of the likely origins of the paroxysms that afflicted the eastern Mediterranean circa 1200 BCE – a very compelling portrayal.

One shortcoming of the book is its glossy pages. These require the light source or book to be positioned in a manner that prevents glare.

Another possible shortcoming is the book’s heavy reliance on other books (in lieu of articles) as references, some priced in the high hundreds to low thousands of dollars (so only readable in the library of a more prominent university). Preferable, if possible, would be greater reliance on academic, peer-reviewed articles, often available at one or more sources (usually governmental or academic) at no cost to the reader (save the printing cost, if printed). Also, some journals publish cumulative surveys of articles, current knowledge and/or areas of research, in effect small detailed books heavy on analysis. Similarly detailed books heavy on analysis may be found as PhD theses at U.S. elitist universities.

One shortcoming is common to all great and lesser works: The relentless advance of human knowledge will render parts gibberish. On page 325, Dr. Broodbank writes, “Earlier archaeologists took the kinds of cultural changes we have witnessed in the northern Mediterranean, along with this fresh signature of long-distance associations across the subcontinent as a whole, as the combined markers of a massive westward thrust of Indo-European language speakers, often thought to originate north of the Black Sea. This has now been rejected on good archaeological grounds, at least beyond the Carpathian basin….” The June 2015 article in Nature entitled “Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe” suggests that this, at least in regard to central Europe, is rather on the side of bunk.

Finally, it is a pleasure to have finished this historical and literary treasure, as finishing it gives the opportunity to fill in detail with other fine books and articles (although I did use Wikipedia as a quick supplement while reading it). Nonetheless, I am certain that I will be returning to this work many times to refresh perspective. And I look forward to discussing it with a friend, after he finishes the last 100 pages.
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3 people found this helpful
Lily White
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
28 September 2016 - Published on Amazon.com
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