Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, 'On the Ocean: The Mediterranean and the Atlantic from Prehistory to AD 1500'

Aaron Jaffer's picture
January 23, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Ancient History, Archaeology, Maritime History / Studies, Atlantic History / Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies

FREE central London event

Talk & wine reception

17:15-18:30, 23 January 2018

Wolfson Room I, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London, WC1 7HU

Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe will be speaking about his new book, On the Ocean: The Mediterranean and the Atlantic from Prehistory to AD 1500.

On the Ocean begins 40,000 years ago, with hunter-gatherers in the eastern Mediterranean building simple vessels to cross the sea to Crete. It ends in the early sixteenth century, with professional sailors from Spain, Portugal, and England establishing the limits of the vast Atlantic from Labrador to Patagonia.

In between, Cunliffe shows what we now know about ancient ship-building techniques; what we can learn from the myth of Odysseus and accounts of the first circumnavigation of Africa; Byzantine ships recovered in Istanbul’s harbour; computer modelling, which shows how Europeans could have traversed the Atlantic; DNA evidence from mice teeth which reveals how Cyprus was colonized by our Neolithic ancestors.

The human impulse to conquer the sea stems from an inbuilt urge to explore; this, Cunliffe argues, has been a driving force, perhaps the driving force, in human history.

This talk is free, open to all and there is no need to book. Please join us for wine in the IHR's Common Room afterwards.

Contact Info: 

Dr Aaron Jaffer, Royal Museums Greenwich

Contact Email: