“Let me hope that the Mediterranean Sea remains the one that I have learned to know as a child and the place where I have spent much of my life in scientific research. Let me evoke the immediate and deep suggestion of limpid landscapes, calm waters, the clear and temperate climate that makes vines and olive trees blossom; overall, the human encounter with people just like us who, in the dialogue, reveal the experience, wisdom and moderation of those who have a millennial civilization behind them, even though they are the simplest peasants or fishermen.”
(Sabatino Moscati – 1989)
In his book consecrated to the Mediterranean, French historian Fernand Braudel writes: «What is the Mediterranean? A thousand things together. Not a single landscape but countless landscapes. Not a single sea but a succession of seas. Not a single civilization, but a series of civilizations piled one on the other». These words offer us an extraordinary cross section of this closed sea; if it is not exactly Plato’s “frogs’ pod”, it certainly is a sea on human scale. A space where the most intense crossroad and exchange between different cultures took place, a space where human civilization developed and where the west consciousness was born. Discovering the history of different populations that have lived this sea, sailing and trading, allow us to make a fascinating journey in space and time, coming into contact with a myriad of fragments that compose an immense and unique tableau that constitutes our memory and an identity that is common to all the populations that face this basin.
Without a doubt the Greeks and the Phoenicians are the protagonists of navigation, colonization and of Mediterranean history; two populations moving from East to West, protagonists of this phenomenon.
At the turn of the 2nd and the 1st millennium BC, after the upheavals carried out by the so-called “Peoples of the Sea”, the end of Mycenaean trade and the containment of Egyptian sailors, the ability to take advantage of the routes and contacts established in the previous ages and to use the sea as a privileged way of communication, is first developed by the Phoenicians and then by the Greeks. Then come the Etruscans and, in the end, other groups such as the Romans gradually appeared and had the ability to take the political and economic opportunities. A fundamental role is also carried out by local populations, whose encounter with colonizers was definitely rich.
A deep unity connects these protagonist populations. The routes were not opposed depending on the populations, but widely in common. As Sabatino Moscati affirms, “At sea the differences between the populations are drastically reduced, in terms of a koinè, a common cultural matrix that needs to be highlighted in its most enlightening meaning”.