Cunliffe: By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean. The Birth of Eurasia. pb

  • By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean. The Birth of Eurasia.
  • Barry Cunliffe.
  • Pb., 544 pages, 130 colour halftones; 150 maps; 28 plans. 2017
Europe is, in world terms, a relatively minor peninsula attached to the Eurasian land mass, yet it became one of the most innovative regions on the planet, bearing restless adventurers who traversed the globe to trade and often to settle. By the fifteenth century Europe was a driving world force, but the origins of its success have until now remained obscured in prehistory. In this magnificent book, the distinguished archaeologist Barry Cunliffe sees Europe not in terms of states and shifting land boundaries, but as a geographical niche particularly favoured in facing many seas.

These and the great transpeninsular rivers ensured a rich diversity of natural resources, and encouraged the interaction of dynamic people across networks of communication and exchange. The development of these early Europeans is rooted in complex interplays, shifting balances, geographic and demographic fluidity. Weaving together titanic concepts whilst remaining sensitive to the specific incidence, this is an interdisciplinary tour de force.

A bold book of exceptional scholarship and an erudite and engaging narrative, "Europe Between the Oceans" heralds an entirely new understanding of Old Europe.