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The Ancient Sailing Season (Mnemosyne Supplements History and Archaeology of Classical Antiquity) (Latin Edition)

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A comprehensive examination of the effects of the shifting seasons on maritime trade, warfare and piracy durig antiquity, this book overturns many long-held assumptions concerning the capabilities of Graeco-Roman ships and sailors.

It is the long-standing belief among classical scholars that seafaring on the ancient Mediterranean was highly seasonal in nature. This assumption underlies and permeates our present understanding of Graeco-Roman maritime activities and has gone all-but unchallenged by historians and archaeologists. There has, after all, seemed little reason to question the handful of ancient texts relating to the seasonal limits of the maritime calendar, for while such literature is sparse, on cursory examination there appears to be broad agreement that the sailing season of antiquity was con ned within a six- to eight-month period centred on the summer. By contrast, the wintertime was regarded as ‘out-of-season’ for Greek and Roman seafarers—the period of mare clausum, the ‘closed sea’. A relatively recent study therefore noted: ‘The duration and dates of the sailing season in the ancient Mediterranean arewell knownand have been fairly thoroughly discussed’.1 Throughout the following pages it will, however, be argued that, rather than presenting a single, uni ed picture of the Graeco-Roman sailing season, critical examination of the ancient texts instead reveals that the maritime calendars surviving from antiquity are far from compatible. Indeed, the literature deals with a wide variety of diferent types of vessels, sailing on very diferent regions of the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the surviving ancient texts are also separated by broad spans of time that encompassed considerable technological, political and economic change, all of which had profound implications for the length of the sailing season.
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