Compile a list of some of the towns, cities, rivers, seas and provinces mentioned in this chapter, and then try and find them on the maps. Can you say something about any three of the items in the list you have compiled?
Some of the towns, cities, rivers, seas and provinces mentioned in this chapter have been tabulated below:
Let’s now discuss three items from the table provided above.
1) Mediterranean Sea
The word ‘Mediterranean’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘mediterraneus’, which means ‘in the middle of the world’. This meaning stands true for this sea, as it is enclosed from three sides by land. The main countries encircling it are Anatolia and Europe in the north, North Africa in the south and Levant in the east.
The Mediterranean Sea for a very long span of history served as an important route for trade and cultural exchange between the people of the Mesopotamian, Carthaginian, Phoenician, Egyptian, Iberian, Macedonian, Greek, Thracian, Illyrian, Levantine, Roman, Gallic, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Berber, Slavic Jewish, and Turkish cultures. Friedrich Hegel rightly states, “For the three quarters of the globe, the Mediterranean Sea was the uniting element and the centre of World History.”
The Romans have also referred to the Mediterranean Sea as Mediterranean Mare Nostrum, which means ‘our sea’. The statement is true as every country encircling the sea was at that time under the reign of the Romans.
It is the longest river in the Middle East. The rivers Euphrates and Tigris have been the cradle of several civilisations of the world such as that of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumer. The Euphrates also had a paramount role to play in the Roman civilization. The river formed the eastern margin of the Roman land referred to as Augusta Euphrantentis. It also supported the stretches of fertile lands whose crops could feed the large population of the civilization. The Euphrates was also the lifeline of the flourishing towns and cities, which, over time, emerged as centres of art and literature.
The city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman city situated near the modern Naples. It was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The eruption left the city buried down in at least 13–20 feet of ash and pumice. The excavation of this dead city proved highly significant in understanding the life in the Roman past. The remains of the advertisements and graffiti on the walls all over the city form good evidence of literacy in that period.