It’s no wonder that the Mediterranean basin—centered on the world’s largest inland sea, blessed by a subtropical climate, and host to nurturing rivers—gave birth to several ancient civilizations. What many don’t realize, however, is that the Mediterranean’s pre-classical history was just as rich as its geography, and just as instrumental in priming the region for success.
In The Making of the Middle Sea, Cyprian Broodbank tells the epic story of the early Mediterranean, from pre-human prehistory to the threshold of the classical era. Drawing on archaeological evidence, he sheds light on the previously overshadowed pluck and progress of the earliest humans of the region. Below are a few of the images of historical findings in early Mediterranean history.
Rock of Gibraltar
The rock of Gibraltar, as it looks today and as it might have appeared during phases of lower sea level to the Neanderthals occupying large caverns along its base © Gibraltar Museum 2006
Experimental travel in a hypothetical reed boat. Photograph Catherine Perles. Courtesy Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Traditions.
A reconstruction of the Iceman on the move, including cold-weather grass cape, knapsack, bow and other equipment. Drazen Tomic (after Tracy Wellman)
Early rock engraving of cattle being milked at Tiksatin, Libyan Sahara © David Mattingly
The loose collection of roundhouses constituting the early Cypriot village of Shillourokambos, set in this reconstruction within a savannah-like landscape with semi-free-ranging yet carefully managed herds. Excavations of Jean Guilaine. Computer graphics. © Simple Past/ Marc Azéma
An 18th-century AD engraving, easily recognizable as a record of an early 1st- millennium BC Sardinian bronze figurine, from the Caylus collection. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
Cyrene, set amidst the fully Mediterranean environment of the uplands of the Jebel Akhdar (‘green mountain’), between Benghazi and Tobruk in present-day northeast coastal Libya. The Classical ruins largely obscure the remains of the first, late 7th-century BC southern Aegean foundation. Photo Susan Kane.
An eruption of Vesuvius, one of the youngest but most violent volcanoes in the Mediterranean, as witnessed by William Hamilton and the artist Pietro Fabris from across the Bay of Naples on the lit-up night of 8th August 1779. Illustration by Pietro Fabris. From Hamilton, W., 1776-79, Campi Phlegraei, Naples