The Making of the Middle Sea

View of the Kastri bay and Agios Giorgios peak sanctuary, Kythera

An Archaeological History of the Mediterranean from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age

Ever since the appearance of Braudel’s first classic work and, recently, The Corrupting Sea by Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, the scope and quality of large-scale interpretative syntheses of the Classical to early modern Mediterranean have stood in stark contrast to the lack of similarly integrated, up-to-date study of the basin’s immensely rich prehistory.

This is despite the fact that almost all the fundamental social, economic, cultural and technological developments in this cockpit of world history originated and started to coalesce at a notably earlier date, and are therefore primarily accessible only through archaeology.

Since 2005 Cyprian Broodbank has been researching and writing such a book. Entitled The Making of the Middle Sea, this book is conceived on an ambitious temporal and spatial scale that embraces a time-span stretching from the earliest Palaeolithic colonisation to the threshold of the Classical world, and addresses the African, Levantine and European sides of the Mediterranean in equal measure.

It identifies a cluster of key features that in combination make the Mediterranean a genuinely unique theatre, distinct from other inland seas and ‘mediterraneoid’ environments, and weaves these together with the impact of climate change to explain the long-term human divergences and convergences in and around the basin that brought the cultural, social and political world of the ancient Mediterranean into being.

Related outputs

The final publication of this research in book form appeared in 2013:

Academic lectures on this research have been presented at many universities in the UK, US, Greece, Sweden, Croatia. This subject was also part of Cyprian's suite of public lectures across the US in 2007, as the Archaeological Institute of America’s Annual Kress Lecturer.

Selected interim publications:

  • 2011: Broodbank, C. ‘The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Andrew Sherratt’, in T. Wilkinson, S. Sherratt and J. Bennet (eds.) Interweaving Worlds: Systemic Interaction in Eurasia 7th to 1st Millennia BC. Oxford: Oxbow, 27-36.
  • 2010: Broodbank, C. ‘Braudel’s Bronze Age’, in O. Krzyszkowska (ed.) Cretan Offerings: Studies in Honour of Peter Warren (British School at Athens Supplementary Studies). London: British School at Athens, 33-40.
  • 2010: Broodbank, C. ‘“Ships a-sail from over the rim of the sea”: voyaging, sailing and the making of Mediterranean societies c. 3500-500 BC’, in A. Anderson, J.H. Barrett and K. Boyle (eds.) The Global Origins of Seafaring (McDonald Institute Monographs). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 249-64.
  • 2008: Broodbank, C.  ‘The Mediterranean and its hinterland’, in B. Cunliffe, C. Gosden and R. Joyce (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 677-722.
  • 2006: Broodbank, C.  ‘The origins and early development of Mediterranean maritime activity’, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19: 199-230.


  • Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
  • Richard Bradford Trust
  • Dr M. Aylwyn Cotton Foundation (2004)
  • Associated fellowships at All Souls College, University of Oxford, and Department of Classics, University of Cinncinnati.

Project Leader:


Further information:

Bookmark and Share