Seascapes: Tracing the Emergence and Spread of Maritime Networks in the Central and Western Mediterranean in the 3rd Millennium BC

Research theme:  Globalisation, Adaptation

This project involves a major programme of radiocarbon dating and spatio-temporal modelling to investigate the origins and large-scale dynamics of early maritime‚Äč connectivity in the Mediterranean associated with the spread of the so-called ‘Bell Beaker’ phenomenon.

The Bell Beaker phenomenon has long been recognised as a material expression of a major spread of people and practices across Europe and the Mediterranean during the 3rd millennium BCE. During this period, the 'mental mapping' of the Mediterranean as a maritime space reached a critical stage; the influx of new people and cultural traits, combined with a boom in seaborne exchange, meant for the first time the western and central Mediterranean became integrated into a large maritime cultural area, foreshadowing the emergence of major Mediterranean civilizations in the next millennium.

The aim of this project is to investigate the origins and large-scale dynamics of early maritimeconnectivity in the Mediterranean by conducting the first large-scale radiocarbon dating programme of Mediterranean Bell Beakers, and chrono-spatial modelling of the dynamics of the origins and spread of these emerging maritime networks during the 3rd millennium BCE, using newly generated and compiled chronological, cultural, dietary and environmental evidence.

Principal Investigator: Dr Lucy Cramp

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