Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian seas

James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello are the authors of The Oil Road – Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London.

For the Guardian they named a top ten list of literary journeys that follow "crude oil from deep beneath the Caspian Sea as it is pumped through the Caucasus Mountains, over the Anatolian Plateau, across the Mediterranean and Adriatic to Trieste, and onwards over the Austrian Alps to Bavaria," including:
The Odyssey

The King of Ithaca's adventures remain vivid after 2,700 years. But for those Greek navigators who first read it, The Odyssey was already an ancient tale. Its world had come to a sudden end. Deforestation and agricultural methods had led to rapid soil erosion. A shifting climate produced harsh droughts in the Aegean. With the collapse of the Mycenaean Bronze Age went its trade arteries.

As the archaeologist Barry Cunliffe notes in Europe between the Oceans, these city-states relied on maintaining "a constant flow of the commodities used in diplomacy and trade". Climatic shift and environmental devastation destroyed the world that Homer described. The history of The Odyssey is a woeful lesson on the impact of climate change and the ecological limits of societies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Odyssey also made Tony Bradman's top 10 list of father and son stories, John Mullan's lists ten of the best shipwrecks in literature, ten of the best monsters in literature, ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, and ten of the best caves in literature, as well as Madeline Miller's top ten list of classical books, Justin Somper's top ten list of pirate books, and Carsten Jensen's list of the top ten seafaring tales.

--Marshal Zeringue