The Boundless Sea: Writing Mediterranean History, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Boundless Sea

Writing Mediterranean History, 1st Edition

By Peregrine Horden, Nicholas Purcell


232 pages

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Hardback: 9780367221263
pub: 2019-10-28
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This volume brings together for the first time a collection of twelve articles written both jointly and individually by Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell as they have participated in the debates generated by their major work, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (2000). One theme in those debates has been how a comprehensive Mediterranean history can be written: how an approach to Mediterranean history by way of its ecologies and the communications between them can be joined up with more mainstream forms of enquiry – cultural, social, economic, and political, with their specific chronologies and turning points. The second theme raises the question of how Mediterranean history can be fitted into a larger, indeed global history. It concerns the definition of the Mediterranean in space, the way to characterise its frontiers, and the relations between the region so defined and the other large spaces, many of them oceans, to which historians have increasingly turned for novel disciplinary-cum-geographical units of study. A volume collecting the two authors’ studies on both these themes, as well as their reply to critics of The Corrupting Sea, should prove invaluable to students and scholars from a number of disciplines: ancient, medieval and early modern history, archaeology, and social anthropology.

Table of Contents




  1. The Mediterranean and the New Thalassology

    American Historical Review, special issue, Forum, ‘Oceans of History’, 111.3 (2006), pp. 722–40

  2. Four Years of Corruption: Response to Critics [of The Corrupting Sea] (retitled)

    Rethinking the Mediterranean, ed. W. V. Harris (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 348–75 

  3. The Boundless Sea of Unlikeness? On Defining the Mediterranean

    Mediterranean Historical Review, 18.2 (2003), pp. 9–29

  4. Fixity

    Mobility and Travel from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, ed. R. Schlesier and U. Zellmann (Lit: Berlin, 2004), pp. 74–83

  5. Meshwork: Towards a Historical Ecology of Mediterranean Cities

    The Mediterranean Cities between Myth and Reality, ed. F. Frediani (Lugano: Nerbini, 2014), pp. 37–51

  6. The Ancient Mediterranean: The View from the Customs House

    Rethinking the Mediterranean, ed. W. V. Harris (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 200–232  

  7. Colonization and Mediterranean History

    Ancient Colonizations: Analogy, Similarity and Difference, ed. H. Hurst and S. Owen (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2005), pp. 115–39

  8. The Early Medieval Mediterranean and the Making of the European Economy

    Not previously published 

  9. Water in Mediterranean History

    Managing Water Resources Past and Present: The Linacre Lectures 2002, ed. J. Trottier and P. Slack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 35–49

  10. Tide, Beach and Backwash: The Place of Maritime Histories

    The Sea: Thalassography and Historiography, ed. P. N. Miller (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), pp. 84–108 

  11. Situations Both Alike? Connectivity, the Mediterranean, the Sahara

    Saharan Frontiers: Space and Mobility in Northwest Africa, ed. J. McDougall and J. Scheele (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), pp. 25–38

  12. Mediterranean Connectivity: A Comparative Approach

    New Horizons: Mediterranean Research in the 21st Century, ed. M. Dabag, D. Haller, N. Jaspert, and A. Lichtenberger (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink/Ferdinand Schöningh, 2016), pp. 211–24


About the Authors

Peregrine Horden is Professor of Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and an Extraordinary Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is co-author, with Nicholas Purcell, of The Corrupting Sea (2000) and of its forthcoming successor. He co-edited with Sharon Kinoshita A Companion to Mediterranean History (2014). Two volumes of his Collected Studies on the history of medicine and charity are published by Routledge, and he is also writing a history of early hospitals.

Nicholas Purcell is Camden Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford and Fellow of Brasenose College. He is co-author, with Peregrine Horden, of The Corrupting Sea (2000) and of its forthcoming successor. He has also written extensively on the social, cultural, and economic history of the city of Rome in antiquity, and of ancient Italy. In 2012 he gave the Sather Classical Lectures at the University of California, Berkeley, on buying and selling in the Greek and Roman worlds, and is currently preparing them for publication.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General