Synopses & Reviews
In this magnificent book, distinguished archaeologist Barry Cunliffe reframes our entire conception of early European history, from prehistory through the ancient world to the medieval Viking period. Cunliffe views Europe not in terms of states and shifting political land boundaries but as a geographical niche particularly favored in facing many seas. These seas, and Europeandrsquo;s great transpeninsular rivers, ensured a rich diversity of natural resources while also encouraging the dynamic interaction of peoples across networks of communication and exchange. The development of these early Europeans is rooted in complex interplays, shifting balances, and geographic and demographic fluidity.
Drawing on archaeology, anthropology, and history, Cunliffe has produced an interdisciplinary tour de force. His is a bold book of exceptional scholarship, erudite and engaging, and it heralds an entirely new understanding of Old Europe.
"Cunliffe, emeritus professor of archeology at Oxford, colorfully weaves history, geography archeology and anthropology into a mesmerizing tapestry chronicling the development of Europe. The sheer size of the European coastlines, as well as the inland rivers pouring into these seas, enabled many groups to move easily from one place to another and establish cultures that flourished commercially. Between 2800 and 1300 B.C., for example, Britain, the Nordic states, Greece and the western Mediterranean states were bound together by their maritime exchange of bronze, whose use in Britain and Ireland had spread by 1400 B.C. to Greece and the Aegean. From 800 to 500 B.C. the 'three hundred years that changed the world' the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans and Carthaginians emerged from relative obscurity into major empires whose struggles to control the seas were for the first time recorded in writing. Cunliffe points out that each oceanic culture developed unique sailing vessels for the kinds of commerce peculiar to it. Richly told, Cunliffe's tale yields a wealth of insights into the earliest days of European civilization. Illus., maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This is a truly remarkable book... It is immensely readable and totally authoritative... No one could read this book, one of its distinguished author's finest achievements, without pleasure and profit. Simply put, it is excellent: original, exciting and a delight to read"and#8212;Roger Collins, author of Visigoth Spain, 409-711 and Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000
"This book is an achievement of astonishing scope: the first to present the whole prehistory of Europe from the origins of farming to the rise of urban society with evident authority, and then to go on to review the Roman world right through to the dawn of the Middle Ages. A pioneering work of synthesis on a continental scale, this is the first coherent overview of the origins of Europe which meets the challenge of treading the path from prehistory into the full light of history. Only an archaeologist could have written it, yet Professor Cunliffe has an impressive grasp also of the historical sources for the Roman world and its aftermath. His easy style should please the general reader, while the boldness and assurance of his masterly treatment will challenge and intrigue the specialist." -andnbsp;Lord Colin Renfrew, Formerly Disney Professor of Archaeology and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge
"Cunliffe provides an enthralling history of Europe from end of the last ice age to the brink of global exploration, an extraordinary story told with unsurpassed knowledge and insight." -andnbsp;Steven Mithen, author of After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC
and#8220;When history is written in this way, conventional priorities are overthrown. . . . An admirable distillation of an enormous amount of evidenceand#8212;full of what is beautiful, interesting and true.and#8221;and#8212;James Fenton, The Sunday Times
and#8220;Cunliffe has written an extraordinary book, which is the culmination of a lifetimeand#8217;s research and thinking about early European history. This is archaeology that truly is history, a definitive account of early Europe from its beginnings to medieval times that draws effortlessly on a myriad of sources. Archaeologists, general readers, and historians alike will delight in this historical tapestry.and#8221;and#8212;Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of The Long Summer
"Europe Between the Oceans, at once compelling and judicious, is an extraordinary book. A work of analytical depth and imaginative sweep. . . . Lavishly illustrated and replete with a sumptuous array of creatively conceived color maps . . ."and#8212;Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly
"Vibrant. . . . Europe Between the Oceans is eminently readable [and] synthesizes major themes in archaeology and history. . . . One of the most accessible discussions available."and#8212;Cheryl Ward, International Journal of Maritime History
"This tale is a human one, admirably told within a variety of geographical and ecological contexts. . . . Remarkable. . . . Europe between the Oceans is a model of interdisciplinary environmental history and a thoroughly enjoyable work. Cunliffe gracefully distills the essence of European development across a span of time as few authors would attempt, and he does so without sacrificing detail. It is admirable in its accessibility, currency, and scope, with much to offer general readers as well as historians and archaeologists."and#8212;Vicki Ellen Szabo, Journal of World History
"Europe Between the Oceans, at once compelling and judicious, is an extraordinary book. In a work of analytical depth and imaginative sweep, Sir Barry Cunliffe, the emeritus professor of European archaeology at Oxford, has synthesized the voluminous recent record of excavations from Iceland to Turkey, the burgeoning scholarship on DNA and ancient populations, and research on topics ranging from Stone Age shipbuilding to trade in Muslim Spain and from salinity levels in the ancient Black Sea to state formation in Early Iron Age Denmark." Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly
(read the entire Atlantic Monthly review
Distinguished archaeologist Cunliffe views Europe not in terms of states and shifting political land boundaries but as a geographical niche particularly favored in facing many seas, in this history that presents an engaging new understanding of Old Europe.
About the Author
Barry Cunliffe is a leading archaeologist in Europe. He is emeritus professor of European archaeology at the University of Oxford and the author of many books, including The Ancient Celts, Facing the Ocean, and The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek.