Mare Nostrum (Latin because that “Our Sea”) to be a common Roman surname for the Mediterranean Sea. The ax was constantly somewhat ambiguous: it both comprise Roman supremacy of the Mediterranean and the cultural diversity that the countries that have actually bordered it because that well over 2 millennia. Because before the roman times, the Mediterranean Sea always was a conference ground for societies that bordered it–sometimes peaceful, sometimes not.

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The island that Sicily is not just the geographic facility of the Mediterranean, it constantly was a ar where the Orient and also the Occident intersected, and also it was situated at the historically fluid boundary in between Europe and also Africa. In Antiquity, native peoples favor the Elmynians common the island through Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and also Romans who all laid insurance claim to all or component of Sicily at part point. Many of these cultures coexisted in Sicily end time, although numerous battles were fought as well.


Greek holy place of the Doric order in ~ Segesta, Sicily, built by the native Elmynians roughly 420 BCE.

After the death of the Western roman inn Empire, a variety of Mediterranean cultures dominated Sicily transparent the middle Ages. Vandals, Goths and also Byzantines ruled Sicily in quick succession, until the Arabs put up the Emirate that Sicily (827-1091). The norman arrived in Sicily in 1061 and also created and gradually broadened their own kingdom the lasted till the Norman dynasty passed away out in 1198. The Hohenstaufen empire from southerly Germany presume the Sicilian crown, adhered to by the house of Anjou in 1266. By the early on 14th century, Sicily had fallen under influence of the Spanish residence of Aragon. The typical thread in Sicilian history is the it was constantly ruled by foreign kings who carried in foreign cultural influences.

Today, the small lanes in the old towns of Palermo and also Cefalù still display the Arabic layout. However it was the Normans that left a large architectural imprint ~ above Sicily v their ambitious construction program which to be designed come re-establish Christianity ~ above the island. The sanctuaries of Cefalù and Monreale, both close come Palermo, and also the Norman royal palace in Palermo v its stunning palace chapel demonstrate that Norman Palermo was probably the most essential European cultural center in the 12th century–and an early hub the globalization.


Monreale Cathedral, built 1174-1182 in a Norman-Arab style, v its stunning oriental mosaics.

The normans left a big imprint top top Sicily from the moment of their an initial arrival in 1061 until approximately 1250. They created a hybrid society that is frequently referred to as Norman-Arab or Norman-Arab-Byzantine culture. This civilization resulted native the interaction in between the Greek-speaking population, Arab settlers who had dominated the island before the arrival of the Normans, and of course the Romanesque north European culture imported by the Normans. As a result, Sicily came to be the crossroads the Mediterranean societies under Norman rule, and a hybrid culture arose that integrated Norman-Catholic, Byzantine-Orthodox and also Arab-Islamic elements. The Monreale Cathedral through its byzantine mosaics and the surrounding cloister developed by Arabic craftsmen is the crowning success of this culture.

Today, the concept of Mare Nostrum has taken top top a different meaning. Adhering to the catastrophic 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck in which over 360 afri refugees drowned, the Italian government enforced the Operation Mare Nostrum, a military and also humanitarian procedure designed to all at once rescue refugees that cross the Mediterranean Sea native Africa in unsafe, overloaded boats and also to apprehend the traffickers. The plan has because been scaled earlier for gaue won reasons.


Memorial to afri refugees that drowned in the Mediterranean, made the end of boat fragments (Cathedral that Noto). The inscription quotes Pope Francis “Chi piangerà every questi morti?” (Who will cry because that these dead?)

In this modern usage, the term Mare Nostrum is plan to adopt the diversity that Mediterranean cultures and to boost exchange and also cooperation in between them. Yet the opposite is continue in Sicily today. The unresolved refugee crisis that is focused on Sicily, primarily as result of its proximity to the north African coast, highlights just how Sicily’s duty in a brand-new era of globalization has actually changed. What once was the facility of the Mediterranean world now has come to be an station of the europe Union, the border in between the wealthy developed nations and the global South. Ironically, the globalization the the 21st century has produced an impermeable border, a bulwark both physical and also mental, on an island the was the meeting allude of Mediterranean cultures and civilizations for over 2 millennia.

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This entry was posted in worldwide Cultures of the Past and also tagged Africa, Arab, border, Byzantine, cathedral, Cefalù, Elmynians, EU, Eurpean Union, worldwide South, globalization, Greek, Mare Nostrum, Mediterranean, Mediterranean Sea, Monreale, Normans, Noto, Palermo, Pope Francis, refugee crisis, refugees, roman Empire, Segesta, Sicily, temple on July 31, 2015 by Peter Hess.

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