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Europe Between the Oceans - 9000 BC-AD 1000 (Anglais) Broché – 1 mars 2011

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Europe is, in world terms, a relatively minor peninsula attached to the Eurasian land mass, yet it became one of the most innovative regions on the planet, bearing restless adventurers who traversed the globe to trade and often to settle. By the fifteenth century Europe was a driving world force, but the origins of its success have until now remained obscured in prehistory. In this magnificent book, the distinguished archaeologist Barry Cunliffe sees Europe not in terms of states and shifting land boundaries, but as a geographical niche particularly favoured in facing many seas. These and the great transpeninsular rivers ensured a rich diversity of natural resources, and encouraged the interaction of dynamic peoples across networks of communication and exchange. The development of these early Europeans is rooted in complex interplays, shifting balances, geographic and demographic fluidity. Weaving together titanic concepts while remaining sensitive to the specific incidence, this is a tour de force. A bold book of exceptional scholarship and an erudite and engaging narrative, Europe Between the Oceans heralds an entirely new understanding of Old Europe. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Biographie de l'auteur

Barry Cunliffe is one of the most important and distinguished archaeologists in Europe. He is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and is the author of over fifteen books. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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Amazon.com: 60 commentaires
114 internautes sur 118 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Great book, synthesizing many years and fields 29 novembre 2008
Par K. Kehler - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is a remarkable overview of an important period in human history in what we now call Europe (basically the period from the end of the last ice age to the medieval period, and covering the beginnings of farming and the rise of cities and settlements: the Neolithic and post-Neolithic period). This is also a summary of archeologist Cunliffe's other works, now contained between two covers. The author discusses everything from trade, migration and the domestication of animals to art and literature -- with Homer's great oral tales in particular getting very good treatment -- and of course languages and warfare. It is well written (on paper is of an exceptional quality) and filled with wonderful crisp and clear photographs, as well as charts and diagrams. The only possible downside is the sheer weight of the book, making it resemble a coffee book, though it isn't that. So, all in all, a great work about an important subject -- the big picture of how the West came to be the West we know -- by a learned and lucid expert in the field(s), pitched at the intelligent ordinary reader, to boot.
63 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A great treasure 17 janvier 2009
Par Robert J. Melton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book is a great treasure - if I was headed for a desert island it would be one of the ten books I would take with me. (And that is after a good forty years of reading history and literature) Cunliffe gives a wide and deep summary of Europe's growth and evolution from the paleolithic to the Roman empire. Unlike so many historians with narrow views, he weaves together findings from archaeology, climatology, geographpy, medical genetics, social history and ecology. His prose is a miracle of clarity, conciseness and sparkled here and there with a little wit and mischief. He highlights the big controversies, lets you know where he stands on them, but is never dogmatic or overbearing. He writes from a long career in this field, yet everything in the book is right up to date. The maps, charts and photos are all a graphic designer's dream - perfectly rendered and always completely integrated with the text. In fact, the book is a publisher's masterpiece. I could go on and on - but just go out and get this!!
49 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fascinating, smooth reading 10 décembre 2008
Par History buff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Along with Mithen's After The Ice, this is the most enjoyable book on European prehistory that I have read. Filled with colorful maps and photos that follow along with the text descriptions, written elegantly and with enough detail to not seem too "dumbed-down" for the layman. If every professor or researcher published their books in such an appealing and vibrant fashion, it would cut into the ratings of the Science and History channels.
119 internautes sur 144 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Too basic, lots of errors and speculations 27 janvier 2010
Par Wilmington - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book is a quick summary of European prehistory, ancient and early medieval history. I bought it chiefly for the prehistoric section (two thirds of the book). It is very readable and well illustrated, but so basic that it reminded me of a secondary school textbook (although a nice one). I didn't learn much. I was annoyed by the fact that Barry Cunliffe speculates a lot and gives his personal opinion everywhere, but not enough archaeological data that would allow the reader to draw his own conclusions. Archaeological periods are usually mentioned without starting and ending dates, which I find unacceptable.

The first three chapters (86 pages) are not about history or archaeology, but consist of a boring description of European geography and geology. There is very little about the central European and Italian Bronze Age; only to sentences about the Unetice culture and not a single mention of the Tumulus culture (1600-1200 BCE), nor of the Terramare culture (1700-1150 BCE), two essential periods to understand the development of Celtic and Italic cultures. There is very little on north-eastern Europe as well.

For a book specifically about European (pre)history, I found that there was an undue emphasis on the Near East (Anatolia, Levant, Egypt) and much too little about Europe beyond Greece, Italy and the Balkans.

Cunliffe keep insisting that no major migration took place between the Pontic steppes and the rest of Europe, despite overwhelming genetic evidence to the contrary. He claims that Indo-European languages came with Neolithic farmers from Anatolia (p.137). This goes against all linguistic studies that date the split of Indo-European languages to 4000-3000 BCE from their Pontic steppe homeland, much later than the spread of agriculture to Europe (7000-5000 BCE). Archaeological evidence confirms that bronze technology, horse-riding, single graves and the rise of patrilinear hierarchical societies all originated in the Eurasian steppes, and moved progressively westward until reaching the Atlantic coast of Europe. Cunliffe reports all this in the book, but repeats obstinately that all this change happened without substantial migration.

On pages 99-101 and 111, the author argues that the Neolithic Greek and Balkanic populations descended directly from the Mesolithic population, and not from Near-Eastern immigrants. How could Indo-European languages spread with agriculture (as he believes) without a migration of population ? In fact, Cunliffe's claim has been completely disproved by DNA studies as well. The Balkans and Greece are much closer genetically to Anatolia and the Levant than to the rest of Europe. This much was clear beyond reasonable doubt when the book was written in 2007.

Barry Cunliffe even argues that the Etruscans did not have any Near Eastern origins. On p. 250, talking about the rise of the Etruscan civilization, he pompously and wrongfully declares that "it is now generally accepted that development was continuous with no influxes of new people". Not only is it not generally accepted, but once again DNA tests have confirmed a Near-Eastern origin both for modern and ancient Tuscans, but also for cattle lineages found in Tuscany today.

The author's dogged refusal to admit a spread of Proto-Celtic people, culture and language from central to western Europe has for consequence that his view of Bronze Age Europe is flawed from the start. On pp. 254-258, he is amazed at the similarity of weapons and feasting gears in Iberia, France, Britain and Ireland in the period 1200 to 800 BCE, and attempts to explain it simply by the existence of maritime networks. It does not ocur to him that this Proto-Celtic culture might have sprung from a common source. Maritime networks don't explain the presence of the same objects inland, far from the coasts. He also does the unforgivable mistake of illustrating the late Western European Bronze Age with a map of P-Celtic and Q-Celtic languages based on the earliest Roman accounts of Celtic languages dating from over 1000 years later ! It is unlikely that the P vs Q split had already occurred around 1000 BCE. How can a serious historian make such a basic anachronism ?

Without trying to nitpick, I noted that some dates were quite inconsistent in different parts of the book. For instance, on p.95 Cunliffe writes that farming reached Crete from Anatolia in 7000 BC, but on p.174 it is 6000 BCE. One thousand years is a long time for such an imprecision.

The next criticism focuses on the author's unrepenting Anglo-centrism. On p.181 he claims that "the earliest appearance of regular bronze-using economy is to be found in Britain and Ireland in the period 2200-2000 BC, after which it spread eastwards and southwards through Europe". The reality is quite different. The Bronze Age started in the Near East, Caucasus and Pontic steppe from 3500 BC, then spread to the Carpathians, Balkans and Greece around 3000-2500 BC, then Central Europe around 2300 BC, and only reached the Atlantic fringe around 2200-2000 BC. I don't know who is is fooling writing that it spread the other way round.

Along the same vein I was shocked to read this passage on p.28 : "At a simple level it would be possible to see the Mediterranean world - a centre of innovation from the third millennium BC - as a core for which the rest of Europe served as periphery. There is a degree of validity in this generalization. Extending the argument, one could say that things only began to change in the seventh and eighth centuries AD when the focus of innovation started to shift to the Atlantic fringes of Europe, where it remained until the end of the nineteenth century." What is he saying is that the Atlantic coast of Europe (the British Isles and western France and Iberia) led scientific/technological innovation in Europe from the early Middle Ages. This is just absurd. During the medieval period it was first the Byzantine Empire then Italy then progressively France and Germany that led innovation. Britain really started influencing the rest of Europe from the late 17th and early 18th century onwards, but along with France, Germany and Austro-Hungary. In France, new ideas came from Paris or eastern France, rarely western France. Iberia hardly led Europe through its scientific innovations, mostly because of the oppressing religious climate under the Inquisition.

Cunliffe speculates (e.g. p.139) that the Western European seafaring tradition and the social prestige attached to exploring unknown territories and colonizing them have their roots in the spread of farming during the Neolithic. In other words, he is suggesting that the Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch and British colonialism can be explained by what people did 6000 to 8000 years ago ! I am not going to list all the aberrations contained in this book, but you will understand why I only grant it two stars. I won't give it only one star because the writing style is pleasant and the illustrations are nice.
46 internautes sur 54 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Heavy Going 1 août 2009
Par Michael Gunther - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
What can be said about a "history" of ancient Europe that doesn't even mention Socrates, let alone the Druids? That it is not a conventional history! As Cunliffe readily explains, his book is concerned with the long-term trends in European history, not the short-term ephemera of particular people and events. This is debatable in principle ("For want of a nail... the kingdom was lost," as Shakespeare put it), and even more restrictive in practice, for "Europe Between The Oceans" confines itself exclusively to the movement of populations and goods, i.e. territories and trade, across and around the varied geography of Europe. This is understandable in a physical archaeologist of the now-outdated (1960's!) French "Annales" school, for whom the object record is paramount, but it is so far from the whole story as to turn the book itself into a prime example of the limitations of this sort of methodology. There are, after all, long-term trends (the infamous "longues durees" so beloved of French theory) to be discerned in science and technology, political and legal systems, social organization, art and literature, philosophy and religion. Yet Cunliffe argues that geography and trade routes are the determining factors in human (or at least, European) history. Not Proven! Consider, for example, the author's concluding remarks, in which he opines that Europeans were restless explorers because they had a "pioneering spirit" (p. 475). This is like saying (to quote Voltaire's satire) that people sleep because of a "dormative principle."

Turning from theory to a reader's practical concerns, I think that many readers will not be able to get through the book's endless recitals of who traded what to whom. It is very heavy going. For example (p. 341):

"During the early and mid-fifth century BC the elites of Levantine Iberia were provided... with high-quality Attic wares probably from Emporion. But around the middle of the fifth century large volumes of cheaper Attic pottery begin to flood the Levantine markets, among them the ubiquitous Castulo cups... The bulk of this material seems to have come not via the trading ports of the Golfe du Lion but direct from Magna Graecia..."

This sort of information is by now, thank goodness, usually incorporated into more focused histories, where it is easily digested and illuminates larger issues about culture and society. Five hundred pages of trade goods and population movements are, I think, too thinly spread over 10,000 years of early European history; if you don't already have a good idea about what the Hallstatt culture is and why it is important, the scattered mentions in the present volume will hardly enlighten you. There is a disproportionate emphasis on minor societies and secondary trade routes in the book, that takes away valuable page space from larger issues.

Finally, and to sum up, Cunliffe's book provides such a practically restricted and theoretically impoverished stream of information that it cannot, despite the author's distinguished standing in his field, be recommended for most readers.
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