Straits in the Ancient Mediterranean Sea

20MAY 2019
Casa de Velázquez, Madrid
Seminar MIAS - EHEHI

Coord.: Sabine PANZRAM (Universität Hamburg / Madrid Institute for Advanced Study)
Org.: École des hautes études hispaniques et ibériques (Casa de Velázquez, Madrid), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Coll.: Toletum-Red para la investigación sobre la península ibérica en la Antigüedad

Location: Casa de Velázquez
C/ Paul Guinard, 3
28040, Madrid

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This international and transversal seminar concerns the phenomenon of the fretum, the strait. The Gaditanum fretum - the current Strait of Gibraltar - is paradigmatic of this geological landscape, separating the mare nostrum from the oceanus, with a minimum width of approximately 14 km and a length of 60 km at its narrowest point. 

In the imagination of Greco-Roman antiquity, this strait is inseparable from the columns of Hercules, between which the water was "boiling" and which marked the end of the inhabited world, the
finis terrae; their mention was essential in maritime routes. The dangers related to navigation in its waters and during its crossing are known, as is also known its economic, strategic and political importance.

The seminar aims to highlight these aspects and compare the strait of Gibraltar to other freta from the Mediterranean and beyond, to highlight their similarities or proximity: what are the myths or stories specific to a strait? What obstacles navigation has to front and which ones arise when establishing harbours? What can be the political consequences of control of a strait?