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Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples

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The Bretons are not French, the Celts are not English, and the Galicians are not Spanish, writes Barry Cunliffe. These maritime communities have long looked north and south along the coast, not inland, to claim a common bond. Even today, the Bretons see themselves as distinct from the French, but refer to the Irish, Welsh, and Galicians as their brothers and cousins.
In Facing the Ocean, Barry Cunliffe, one of the world's most highly regarded authorities on prehistoric Europe, ...
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Overview


The Bretons are not French, the Celts are not English, and the Galicians are not Spanish, writes Barry Cunliffe. These maritime communities have long looked north and south along the coast, not inland, to claim a common bond. Even today, the Bretons see themselves as distinct from the French, but refer to the Irish, Welsh, and Galicians as their brothers and cousins.
In Facing the Ocean, Barry Cunliffe, one of the world's most highly regarded authorities on prehistoric Europe, offers an utterly original way of looking at that continent. He argues that the peoples of the Atlantic rim--of Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar--all share a cultural identity shaped by the Atlantic Ocean, an identity which stretches back almost ten thousand years. These peoples lived at the edge of the world, in places called Land's End, Finistere, and Finisterra, and looked out on a bountiful but terrifying expanse of ocean, a roiling, merciless infinity beyond which there was nothing. Their profound relationship with the ocean set these communities apart from their inland countryman, creating a distinct Atlantic culture. Cunliffe culls the archaeological evidence to illuminate the bonds that developed and intensified between these isolated communities and helped to maintain a shared and distinctive Atlantic identity.
Attractively designed and vibrantly written, Facing the Ocean offers a striking reassessment of a people who have usually been regarded as peripheral to European history. It will send shock waves through the history world and will radically change our view of the European past.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An eagle-eye view of unique clarity from an impassioned observer with a discerning mind.... It delivers history from a fresh perspective, encompassing a region rarely glimpsed as a whole."--The Economist

"Brilliant. One of the most fascinating new ideas in archaeology."--Richard Ellis, The Times [London]

"A remarkable achievement. Cunliffe has produced a measured and masterfully executed account of the long-term development of Atlantic communities and their maritime connections, bringing together for the first time a staggering amount of material."--Jon Henderson, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Profusely illustrated with maps, aerial views and archaeological photographs, this volume is a delight to the eye as well as a splendid introduction to the European roots of the modern Atlantic community."--Seaport

"Lavishly illustrated...a beautiful book...Cunliffe is to be complimented because he has stepped beyond the yearning for Celtic myths to use contemporary archaeology to tell a great story of human endeavour."--Richard Hodges, History Today

"This is a seminal work, an innovative and imaginative treatment of ancient and medieval European history, written in an engaging fashion. Not only is its thesis riveting, the book is beautifully laid out with informative maps, charts, and colored and black and white photographs, good documentation, a very usable index, and even bewitching sea beast iconography adorning the title page of each chapter. That Cunliffe, who 'wanted to write [this book] for a lifetime,' did so is a celebration for all privileged to read it."--Journal of Social History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192853554
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/15/2004
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Cunliffe is Professor of European Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
1. Perceptions of the Ocean 1
2. Between Land and Sea 19
3. Ships and Sailors 64
4. The Emergence of an Atlantic Identity: 8000-4000 BC 109
5. Ancestors and Ritual Landscapes: 4000-2700 BC 159
6. Expanding Networks and the Rise of the Individual: 2700-1200 BC 213
7. Sailors on the Two Oceans: 1200-200 BC 261
8. Restating Identity: 1200-200 BC 311
9. The Impact of Rome: 200 BC-AD 200 365
10. Migrants and Settlers in the Early Middle Ages: AD 200-800 422
11. The Coming of the Northmen 482
12. New Centres, New Peripheries: AD 1000-1500 517
13. The Longue Duree 554
A Guide to Further Reading 569
Illustration Sources 581
Index 585
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