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The Human Experience of Seafaring in Prehistoric Times

Penn State University Press
October 2020

The majority of current research dealing with the maritime world is centered on abstract notions such as trade, networks, connectivity, or the movement of objects. Yet, while these abstractions are useful and necessary, they often tend to neglect the people involved in seafaring activities and their experiences, contributing to the still dominant perception of the open sea as an empty space. This article seeks to address the human maritime experience as an intrinsic part of a seascape by tracing the specific experiences a sailor would have made out at sea. Based on an analysis of archaeological material derived from Late Bronze Age and Archaic shipwrecks from the eastern Mediterranean and incorporating comparative textual sources and iconography the article will attempt to shed light on particular aspects of maritime culture in prehistoric societies that are hard to grasp.