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Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea

International trade and the Late Bronze Age Aegean

Eric H. Cline
Publication Year:
351pp. First published in 1994, reprinted in 2009 with a few updates.
BAR number:


A reissue of Eric H. Cline’s highly regarded study of trade in the Late Bronze Age Aegean, first published in 1994 and out-of-print since 2000. The monograph is composed of three principal parts: 1) an analytical section discussing the trade and contacts which occurred between the Aegean, Italy, Egypt, and the Near East during the latter half of the second millennium BC, and the social, economic and cultural implications of such contacts; 2) first, a catalogue of literary and pictorial references to the LBA Aegean found in outside areas - primarily Egypt and the Near East - with transliterations and translations of the appropriate texts, and second, a compilation of the references to, and loanwords from, other areas of the Mediterranean found in the Linear B texts in the Aegean; and 3) a catalogue, by object type, of all the Orientalia and Occidentalia found in LBA contexts within the Aegean area. The monograph utilizes the catalogues in combination with previously published works by a variety of scholars to provide a detailed analysis of the trade and contacts between the LBA Aegean, Italy, Egypt and the Near East. The work is divided into six sections, each consisting of a series of interlinked essays.  Section One provides an introduction to the topic, a brief overview of the previous scholarship in this area, and a discussion of the chronological problems involved.  Section Two consists of an initial chapter discussing LBA trade and contact between the Aegean, Italy, Egypt and the Near East by centuries, followed by chapters discussing trade between the LBA Aegean and individual Mediterranean countries.  Section Three contains discussions of the trade mechanisms involved, the trade routes, merchant nationalities, goods, motivations, and partnerships, plus a brief look at the Ulu Burun (Kas) and Cape Gelidonya shipwrecks.  Section Four presents an overview of the conclusions reached by this study and reiterates that the current work presents much raw data and some preliminary observations but is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of tapping the wealth of information which may be extracted from the accompanying catalogues.