Across the Corrupting Sea:
Post-Braudelian Approaches to the Ancient Mediterranean

A colloquium proposed for the 2014 AIA Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL

Sponsored by the Roman Provincial Archaeology Interest Group.

Recent scholarship on the ancient Mediterranean has increasingly focused on questions of connectivity and landscape. The works of Braudel, Horden and Purcell, Abulafia, and Pirenne have been particularly influential to these discussions, suggesting innovative methods for rethinking cultural contact and exchange in antiquity. In each of these works, the author views the Mediterranean as a cohesive entity unified by trade and cultural networks. Long-term patterns, rather than individual events, drive cultural change. Events, ideas, and conceptual shifts are contextualized within micro-ecology and the longue durée of human history. These works have met with mixed reception among scholars of the ancient world. For some, Braudelian scholarship provides a crucial foundation for questions of cultural transmission, imperialism, economy, and environment. Among others, these works have largely been ignored for their de-emphasis of traditional historical subjects, such as wars and politics, and their lack of a grand metanarrative. Our goal is to consider critically the applications of Braudelian and post-Braudelian methodologies that we hope will influence and nuance future research on connectivity and cross-cultural interactions in the ancient Mediterranean.

For this panel, we seek new scholarly inquiries that employ Braudelian and post-Braudelian approaches, extend these methods, or critique this mode of scholarship. We are interested in papers that consider these methodologies through archaeological, historical, art historical, economic, political, social, and/or religious issues relevant to the ancient Mediterranean. We define the Mediterranean broadly, including not only the sea’s shores but also the sea’s impact on inland terrain. We ask: who is crossing the Mediterranean and why?  How do ideas translate across borders and boundaries? What is the role of nature and landscape in cultural mediation?  Should we consider the Mediterranean a unified concept through time and space?

Abstracts of no longer than 250 words should be sent to by March 5th, 2013. Please include your contact information, presentation title, and length of time requested (15 or 20 minutes). The abstract should conform to the AIA Style Guidelines ( webinfo.php?page=10453). Please note that abstracts accepted will then be submitted to the AIA Program Committee for acceptance into the AIA program.

Co-Organizers: Cavan Concannon (Duke University) and Lindsey Mazurek (Duke University)