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Title: Rethinking Roman perceptions of coastal landscapes : a case-study of the Levant
Author: Obied, Carmen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 6215
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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A recent resurgence of interest in the field of ancient geography and navigation has led to a need to re-evaluate the surviving corpus of ancient texts and archaeological evidence to seek alternative modes of perceiving space in the past. Links can be traced between ancient mariners’ practical experience and geographers’ conceptualisation of space, which present a complex ‘jigsaw puzzle’ of the oikoumene (known inhabited world). This research thus presents a case-study of the Levantine coast and explores alternative modes of perceiving space beyond the predominant linear approach. This is achieved through a comparative analysis of selected ancient sources, focusing on maritime archaeological evidence and geospatial analysis. The prime objective is to demonstrate the diverse nature and approaches of ancient authors’ representation of the oikoumene, as a means of conceptualising spatial associations and navigating the seascape. This is investigated through two key themes that emerged in the data: (A) ‘Static’ and (B) ‘Movement’, within a multidisciplinary framework set in the Roman Levant. A “common sense geography” approach is adopted, in which themes are considered and explored through different conceptual models, particularly in the context of sailing practicalities and mariners’ practical experience, as a means of providing insights into which authors experienced the described voyages or had a sense of seafaring. It raises questions on the nature of their sources, genres and purpose, underlining the relation between political and geographic knowledge. Understanding how these factors reflect on ancient notions of navigation can help to improve our knowledge of past perceptions of the maritime landscape and the dynamic relationship between people and the sea. The Levant region presents a high degree of variation, both physically and conceptually. Aspects linked to the nature and scale of navigation are examined in relation to regional maritime conditions, harbours, activities and routes. These themes are further contextualised via analogous cases in other regions of the Eastern Mediterranean. Emerging patterns offer insights into which authors actually experienced these voyages, as well as raising questions relating to the nature of their sources, genres and purpose. Results reflect a varied sense of spatial awareness of the known world amidst ancient authors, suggesting more multi-faceted ways of perceiving space in antiquity, and thus, improving our knowledge of past perceptions of the maritime landscape and the dynamic relationship between people and the sea, from both a mariner’s and armchair geographer’s perspective.
Supervisor: Blue, Lucy ; Isaksen, Leif Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available