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By Clark G Reynolds

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Extra resources for Command of the Sea: The History and Strategy of Maritime Empires

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Needless to say, their high-prow and high-stern river boats provided platforms for battle as well as transportation for troops and goods. C. consolidated the entire region under one dynasty and reached the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean at the Canaanite port cities of Ugarit and Byblos, from which Mesopotamian goods were ferried over water at least as far as Cyprus and the delta of the Nile. In the opposite direction, Mesopotamian trading vessels passed into the Persian Gulf en route to the delta of the Indus.

C. coincided with the simultaneous appearance of the Greeks in that region, both having a marked influence on the maritime splendor of the Etruscans. Greece and the Aegean islands, isolated and disrupted by the Mycenaean collapse, many migrations and piratic wars, stagnated in a dark age until the ninth century when fresh activities on land and sea reopened Greek contacts with the Levant via Cyprus. By 800 a Greek trading station flourished at coastal Al Mina near the ruins of Ugarit, soon leading to strong Eastern influences on the Greeks, especially that of the Phoenician alphabet, which they readily adopted.

The Aegean remained fairly isolated, as did Egypt, with the Canaanites and later the Mycenaeans acting as mutual carriers. In this arrangement, the “empires” of the second millennium could better be interpreted as spheres of influence typified by the free dependence of smaller cities on the protection of stronger ones against pirates. Colonies were actually coastal trading enclaves; navies were merely small collections of armed merchant craft. The common purpose of Egypt, “Minoa” and Canaan between the eighteenth and fifteenth centuries developed from dynamic internal events within Egypt and Crete, from the mutual desire for prosperous trade and from the threat posed by the continental Hittite Empire.

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