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Absurdly Small Seas: Contouring The Roman Mediterranean

September 27, 2019 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Bldg 110 - Rm 112


Connectivity looms large in 21st-century scholarship on the ancient Mediterranean. That the Roman world was tightly linked is hardly in doubt, but the common view of the Mediterranean as a persistent force for integration has tended to flatten the finer contours of maritime interaction and remove both their agency and historical contingency. Drawing on the archaeological record of shipwrecks and ports, this talk explores the dynamic interaction that created not a singular unified and “absurdly small sea” (to borrow Durrell’s imaginative description) but many smaller and diverse maritime worlds. As a case study, I focus on one particular paradox raised by the material record in the late antique east: how should we understand an evident trajectory toward increasing integration here against the generally accepted backdrop of Mediterranean fragmentation?

Justin Leidwanger is Assistant Professor of Classics at Stanford. Since 2013 he has directed the Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project off the coast of southeast Sicily, including excavations of the famous late antique ‘church wreck.’

Lunch provided at 12:15, first come first served.

If you cannot attend, consider watching remotely at; please mute your audio and video upon joining the talk.

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