The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History
April 2000, Wiley-Blackwell
Note on References and Abbreviations.
Lists of Illustrations.
Part I: 'Frogs Round a Pond': Ideas of the Mediterranean:.
1. A Geographical Expression.
2. A Historian's Mediterranean.
Part II: 'Shory Distances and Definite Places'': Mediterranean Microecologies:.
3. Four Definite Places.
4. Ecology and the Larger Settlement.
Part III: Revolution and Catastrophe:.
6. Imperatives of Survival: Diversify, Store, Redistribute.
7. Technology and Agrarian Change.
8. Mediterranean Catastrophes.
9. Mobility of Goods and People.
Part IV: The Geography of Religion:.
10.'Territories of Grace'.
Part V: 'Museums of Man': The Uses of Social Anthropology:.
11.'Mists of Time': Anthropology and Continuity.
12.'I also Have a Moustache' : Anthropology and Mediterranean Unity.
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.
- Provides a broad, interdisciplinary history of the Mediterranean from the ancient to the early modern era.
- Discusses the geography and ecology of the region as well as social and economic change over time.
- Challenges Ferdinand Braudel's assumptions in his classic work on the later history of the Mediterranean.
"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,
"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
"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
"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
"This impressive work synthesizes a vast amount of historical, geographical, archaelogical, and ethnographic knowledge about the Mediterranean region." Historical Geography