Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Crystal El Safadi (2016)

Keywords: Maritime, Space, Early Bronze Age, Levant, Mediterranean, GIS, Seascapes, Landscapes


Maritime spaces are endowed with a set of natural characteristics which acts above and beneath the water surface. They foster a home for the movement of winds, of water, of ships, and of people. Yet these spaces are not present in isolation. Land and sea seamlessly merge shaping waterfronts that are marked by human activities. Our knowledge of maritime spaces is growing, much of their affordances, however, remain concealed. By reconstructing and analysing spatial and social processes, we can reach a better understanding of lived maritime spaces.

The Early Bronze Age (EBA) (c. 3600 to 2000 BC) in the Levant conventionally marks the first urban period. The Levantine littoral played a major role during the mid-third millennium BC, when maritime connections, particularly with Egypt, became vital. Although archaeological narratives have attempted to explain maritime affairs and social complexity of the EBA Levant, most did not consider the totality of Levantine space, neither appraise the Levantine littoral as a seamless space of sea and land.

This paper aims to present a study of the coastal Levant during the EBA as a space of maritime connectivity and accessibility. It builds on a rhythmical and a time-space analysis of the eastern Mediterranean, the Levantine littoral, and of the EBA maritime archaeological record of the area, in order to move beyond notorious social events to social processes, and shift from a static representation of space towards a relational space-time.