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An exploration of new research on subjects relating to the maritime life of Rome and its vast empire

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Copyright © 2008, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.


It was not until the third century BCE that geopolitical realities beyond Italy forced Rome to recognize the importance of the sea to its own fate. Two centuries later, following the fall of Egypt in 30 BCE, Rome emerged as the dominant maritime power. Once in place, Rome's dominance of the sea became an important component of its imperial history. No other power before or since has controlled the Mediterranean basin or exercised an imperial naval tenure to such an extent.

Derived from the proceedings of the conference "The Maritime World of Ancient Rome" held at the American Academy in Rome 27-29 March 2003, this volume was conceived to provide a forum for recent research on subjects relating to the maritime life of Rome and the vast empire it created. With contributions from eminent scholars from around the world, this volume builds upon and extends the scope of the American Academy in Rome's first volume on Rome's maritime life, The Seaborne Commerce of Ancient Rome: Studies in Archaeology and History. It will be of interest to scholars investigating maritime aspects of the Roman period and to upper level students studying the maritime affairs of the Roman period.

Cover Credit: Roman merchantman under sail entering or leaving Portus, ca. 3rd century AD. Courtesy Fototeca Unione, AAR.

"From papers on warship slipways to prostitutes, and from piracy to hydraulic concrete, this volume will be a required source for researchers dealing with maritime life in Roman times. As with all good scholarship, the combined gravitas of the contributions here pushes research forward by discussing new fieldwork, reviewing critically previous conclusions, studying evidence in new patterns and experimental archaeology."
---Shelley Wachsmann, Meadows Professor of Biblical Archaeology, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University

"The Maritime World of Ancient Rome provides both theoretical and descriptive discussions of recent scholarly work devoted to expanding our modern understanding of the role of waterways and seas in Roman life. Drawing upon history and archaeology through cogent and accessible contributions by top scholars, the collection will stimulate discussion and debate for years to come. Readers will, like me, be inspired by the overarching perspective of the maritime network and its influence on so many aspects of life in the ancient Roman world."
---Cheryl Ward, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Florida State University

"The Maritime World of Ancient Rome is not just of interest to maritime scholars but also to anyone working on the ancient Roman world."
---Hector Williams, Trustee, Vancouver Maritime Museum, and Professor, Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, University of British Columbia

Robert L. Hohlfelder, Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is a world-renowned expert in underwater archaeology, and has published widely on ancient maritime history, late Roman and early Byzantine history, and ancient numismatics.