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Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In this magnificent book, distinguished archaeologist Barry Cunliffe reframes our entire conception of early European history, from prehistory through the ancient world to the medieval Viking period. Cunliffe views Europe not in terms of states and shifting political land boundaries but as a geographical niche particularly favored in facing many seas. These seas, and Europ ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Yale University Press
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  409 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history_general

This is a good-quality, very informative book written by a distinguished archeologist; it is a scholarly work competently combining archaeology with historiography, ambitious in scope and rich with detail (considering its breadth in time and space).

It provides fresh, very interesting insights into trading and cultural networks West of the Urals, as supported by archeological evidence and primary sources. It also ties the European prehistoric and proto-historic worlds to the historic period in in
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't understand why this is built like a textbook.
I don't understand why Cunliffe kept referring (three times!) to mountains as the "backbone" of a continent.
In fact I don't understand all the weird humanization of geography especially at the beginning of the book. "where the outlying flanks of the Carpathian Mountains attempt to link to the dying remains of the Alps." Bear in mind this is only a sub-clause in a sentence about the river Danube "negotiating" its way to the sea.
In fact I don'
Dimitrios Diamantaras
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Dimitrios by: Atlantic Monthly Magazine
So far, so excellent. This book goes on the top of the list of books I'm currently reading. It is a wonderfully concise and engaging, and yet magisterial and wide-ranging, history of Europe from the long perspective (about 10000 BC to 1000 AD).
Justin Evans
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-etc
I'm glad this book exists--it fills a much unwanted gap, inasmuch as it's a reasonably approachable introduction to prehistoric Europe and the way it developed into historical Europe. For the first few chapters I was riveted. For the middle half dozen, I was aflame with the thirst for knowledge: Cunliffe describes thousands of years worth of broad historical trends in a fascinating way, never downplaying the difficulty of actually knowing about the distant past, and somehow manages to make archa ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: To anyone interested in a unique look at European history
Europe dominated the world during the course of the second millennium CE, this domination came in the form of arts and sciences. The influence of Europe came from the mobility of its people. It only took a few centuries for the world to come under the influence of European culture.

This book doesn’t look at this time in European history but rather at the time it took to get there. The book looks at the period of history (and pre-history) from 9000 BCE to the end of the first millennium CE, at th
Grady McCallie
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. Cunliffe places the history of Europe (and the Mediterranean) in perspective, and his perspective is the very long view, from 9000 BC to 1000 AD.

This book is worth reading for three different purposes. First, if you want a framework for classical and European history, read the first chapter (on the geography of Europe) and the opening and closing sections of each chapter, and you have an instant framework on which to hang anything else.

Second, if you want to understand
Alex Telander
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
EUROPE BETWEEN THE OCEANS: 9000 BC – AD 1000 BY BARRY CUNLIFFE: Barry Cunliffe, a leading archaeologist, and emeritus professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford, presents his next epic tome that will delight archaeology readers and scientists alike. Europe Between the Oceans takes one on a long and fascinating journey into our deep past, beginning with the ancient when humanity was split into nomadic groups and first began changing their sedentary ways, to the end of the first ...more
Nick Weeks
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Ok, at over 500 pages and very dense this book is not for teh faint of heart. I do recommend it though because it gives a very interesting, deep, and unique history of Europe from 9,000 BC to 1000 AD. Rather than discuss important dates or people, Cunliffe focuses instead on the forces that shaped Europe, namely its position as a peninsula. I was really taken aback by how easily Cunliffe takes very complex ideas throughout this book and synthesizes them into short precise thoughts. For example, ...more
David Warwick
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a big picture introduction to European history, prior to the well documented last 1000 years, then this is your book.

It is particularly good at emphasising how recent the "historical" past is compared the broad stretch of actual human history.

Clear, simple, well-written, consistent, and fair - a joy to read, one of those books that reminds you that genius is often clarity of vision, the ability to see simple patterns among a mass of confusing detail.
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Cunliffe does geographical anthropology, looking at how land and water shaped European civilization. Fascinating, and definitely accessible to the non-specialist (e.g., me).
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A tremendous book. The history of Europe from the end of the Ice Age to the beginning of modern Europe in 500 jam-packed ages by the premier British archaeologist.
Richard Reese
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’ve long been interested in learning more about my wild ancestors, the indigenous hunter-gatherers of Europe, in order to better understand who I am. Descriptions of them recorded by the ancient Greeks and Romans were too meager to satisfy my curiosity. Recently, I came across Barry Cunliffe’s book, Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC – AD 1000. Cunliffe is an archaeologist, and ongoing research is discovering many new pieces for the puzzle. His book serves readers a staggering amount of informa ...more
Victor Sonkin
Mar 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, archaeology
A history of Europe's 10,000 years is by definition a grand undertaking. Who better equipped for it than Barry Cunliffe, one of the continent's most publicized, prolific and articulate archaeologists? The result is a beautiful good-looking volume with as many disappointments as delights.

One of the major disappointments has nothing to do with the author's skill or manner. It's the sheer disappointment of coming to terms with how little we know about prehistory, and, before the advent of time trav
Czarny Pies
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in history. This is truly a landmark work.
Shelves: european-history
Ca vaut vraiment la peine de lire "Europe between the Oceans, 9000 BC - AD 1000" meme si on n'est pas parfaitement à l'aise avec l'anglais, car l'essentiel dans cette oeuvre brilliante ne se trouve pas dans le texte pompier et inélégant mais dans le brio avec lequel, l'auteur se sert des cartes pour raconter l'histoire de l'Europe pour une époque pour laquelle des sources écrites n'existent pas.
Cunliffe annonce ses intentions très clairement dans son introduction; il va suivre le schéma de Braud
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in history
Cunliffe does a great job of covering 10,000 years of European history in a manageable 479 pages. The book has spectacular color images that do a good job of illustrating the different cultures under discussion. I was kept fascinated throughout the entire read, something I cannot say for some of my college textbooks. For anyone that wants an accessible, scholarly introduction to the history of Europe, then give this book a read.
Edward Lengel
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Superbly written and scholarly treatment, expertly combining archaeology and historiography. Cunliffe surveys the early movements and migrations of the European peoples, with particular emphasis on how geography influenced trade, politics, and society. I found this book particularly fascinating in light of recent discoveries in the realm of DNA and genealogy. It's probably not for general readers, though.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Barry Cunliffe's "Europe Between the Oceans" is an amazingly detailed overview of the long sweep of history from the late Stone Age through the Middle Ages. In particular, I'm learning quite a bit about the advent of farming, and there are also lots of tidbits that were eye-opening in terms of theories about how Europe was settled, comparing DNA analysis, language analysis, and other means of figuring out how Europeans came to live where they do.
Nov 09, 2016 added it
Shelves: books-i-own
No correlation to the lectures at all, soo.... ?!
Andrew Davis
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A panoramic overview of Europe’s prehistory and antiquities. A good start up book.
Some of the notes follow:
Europe, in the form familiar to us today, began to emerge around 6000 BC.
At the height of the last glaciation (20,000-18,000 BC) the temperature was about 20 degrees C lower than it is today. With so much water tied up in the ice sheets, more than 4 km thick, the sea level dropped to 100 metres below the present levels.
Around 18,000 BC the climate began to warm up and reached a warm optimu
Jack Wimberley
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This gave a very good overview of archaeological cultures of ancient Europe and has a lot of info about regions and times that get short-shrifted historically because of the lack of written records. I learned a whole lot reading this book, just like I hoped. However, one big caveat is that whenever Cunliffe lets hiis mind wander free, especially when he is is imagining details about past cultures that he thinks are "likely" or "probable," he has exactly the mindset you'd expect from an older upp ...more
Tony Taylor
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting book, but maybe more than you might want to know considering the detail the author goes into to explain ten thousand years of European history from 9000 BC to 1000 AD. I confess that I just scanned some of the 479 pages despite that, for what some might call a text book, it was surprisingly readable. It might not be a book for everyone, but if you want a relatively concise history of Europe from the last "mini" Ice Age to the fall of the Byzantine Empire, it is a good way to put all ...more
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: your-library
This is an excellent overview of European cultural movements from 10,000 BCE to 1,000 CE. I don't know much about ancient history but to my ear, at least, this book didn't seem to push any particular agenda or theory to the exclusion of others. The author of course has a position wherever the facts (or their interpretation) are in doubt but he's not evangelical. The maps, charts and illustrations are really well thought out and the narrative is well balanced geographically and across time period ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This book nicely contradicts the statements about the origin og European languages in :

Mr. Cunliffe states that most older books about the early European history had a colonial point of view. Europe is described there as being overrun and colonized by people from the east. Cunliffs book looks more inspired by the European Union. According to this book Europe always had its own dynamics and development, often absorbing people, technology and ideas from the
Dawid Łaziński
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This richly illustrated book recounts Europe’s history from 9000BCE to 1000CE. It served me as a steppingstone for a further and more detailed analysis of the Greece/Rome Iron Age period, ca. 1000BCE+. With that in mind I found the book comprehensive and adequately generalizing. Cunliffe consequently underlines Europe’s unique geographical conditions. Rather than war and politics he sees climate, coastline patterns, rivers and natural resources as key reasons for continent’s ultimate internal di ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
First, let me offer the disclaimer that I know very little about archaeology or early European history. That being said, this book was very interesting to read for a broad overview of the subject matter. The writing is accessible without being condescending. The scope is obviously very broad, so for me there were a lot of areas where I was left wanting more information. For me, that is perfect, as I was looking for an introduction to the subject matter that might point me to possible future rese ...more
J.M. Hushour
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just when you think you couldn't abide yet another goddamn history of stupid ol', played-out Europe, Cunliffe comes along and knocks you on your collective, stale historiographical ass with a fresh look at 'Ol' Dander' as Europe is known among subcontinents (other nicknames for Europe include 'Ol' Squeezin' Lemon', 'Diarasporhhea', and 'Neanderthal Fuckers').
What stands out here is the kinda old-school approach breaking down climate, geography and all that crap before getting into the nitty-grit
Nov 02, 2009 added it
Archaeologist Cunliffe covers a huge swathe of territory and time with complete mastery. He views Europe through a geographer's eyes seeing it as a peninsula of Asia. There are interesting facts on every page. The Thames and Rhine rivers are the same river, the Black Sea was a lake before 5500 BC and the power of Athens was based on its silver. Ancient and forgotten cultures like the Cimmerians, Scythians and Phoenicians are given their due. Excellent chapters on the Roman empire and Viking expa ...more
This is a wonderful overview of ten thousand years of history, with wonderful pictures on almost every page showing the various Goddesses and Gods, as religions evolved during that period, and as cultures lived, rose, fell, were transformed. This is a slow read. One has to set it down frequently just to assimilate the new material one has read so far. I've been reading it for many weeks. I found it fascinating, if a bit like swimming in Jello. Highly recommended for fans of Development of Civili ...more
P.H.G. Haslam
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book enjoyable; it brought together a lot of disparate parts of my knowledge together nicely. Of course, given the huge timespan and physical setting of the book, brevity is to be expected. There's a lot I must look up in more detail.
I liked Cunliffe's romantic writing style and his general warmth and enthusiasm towards humanity, and particularly to the people of the earlier part of this time period and their pioneering spirit.
Su McLaren
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I will read anything Barry Cunliffe writes. His style may be a bit tedious to some, but his information is good and he is fairly quick to update any of his pet theories. That being said, I was a bit disappointed in this one. I was really looking forward to lots of information on Dogger Land, as that was what I thought it was going to be about. However, if you don't have your heart set on a particular part of the story, this is a good one.
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Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe taught archaeology in the Universities of Bristol and Southampton and was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2008, thereafter becoming Emeritus Professor. He has excavated widely in Britain (Fishbourne, Bath, Danebury, Hengistbury Head, Brading) and in the Channel Islands, Brittany, and Spain, and has been President of the Cou ...more