The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans

The Boundless Sea - A Human History of the Oceans

Regular price £35.00 £35.00 Sale

For most of human history, the seas and oceans have been the main means of long-distance trade and communication between peoples - for the spread of ideas and religion as well as commerce. This book traces the history of human movement and interaction around and across the world's greatest bodies of water, charting our relationship with the oceans from the time of the first voyagers.

  • Hardcover: 1088 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; 01 edition (3 Oct. 2019)
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 5 x 24 cm

David Abulafia begins with the earliest of seafaring societies - the Polynesians of the Pacific, the possessors of intuitive navigational skills long before the invention of the compass, who by the first century were trading between their far-flung islands. By the seventh century, trading routes stretched from the coasts of Arabia and Africa to southern China and Japan, bringing together the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific and linking half the world through the international spice trade. In the Atlantic, centuries before the little kingdom of Portugal carved out its powerful, seaborne empire, many peoples sought new lands across the sea - the Bretons, the Frisians and, most notably, the Vikings, now known to be the first Europeans to reach North America. As Portuguese supremacy dwindled in the late sixteenth century, the Spanish, the Dutch and then the British each successively ruled the waves.


Following merchants, explorers, pirates, cartographers and travellers in their quests for spices, gold, ivory, slaves, lands for settlement and knowledge of what lay beyond, Abulafia has created an extraordinary narrative of humanity and the oceans. From the earliest forays of peoples in hand-hewn canoes through uncharted waters to the routes now taken daily by supertankers in their thousands, The Boundless Sea shows how maritime networks came to form a continuum of interaction and interconnection across the globe: 90 per cent of global trade is still conducted by sea. This is history of the grandest scale and scope, and from a bracingly different perspective - not, as in most global histories, from the land, but from the boundless seas.

WINNER OF THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE 2020

A SUNDAY TIMES, FINANCIAL TIMES, THE TIMES AND BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE BOOK OF THE YEAR

+ Read more - Show less
  • FREE UK Delivery for orders over £50

    Free UK shipping for orders over £50. For all other orders, we offer a flat rate of £4.95 per order. Orders are sent using a tracked service, and please allow 3-5 working days to receive, except for Custom Prints which take a little longer as they are made to order.

    Please see our Delivery & Returns page for more information. 

    Due to the measures we have put in place to keep our E-Commerce team safe, processing and fulfillment times are extended by up to two weeks. 

    Please see our FAQs for more information.

  • International Delivery Information

    Delivery rate varies by country and value of order. Please allow 5-7 working days to receive after we have dispatched, except for Custom Prints. These take a little longer due to being made to order.

    Please see our Delivery & Returns page for more information.  

    Due to the measures we have put in place to keep our E-Commerce team safe, processing and fulfillment times are extended by up to two weeks. 

    Please see our FAQs for more information.

  • Returns Policy

    Due the current situation, we are unable to accept returns at present, but will extend the return period until we are able to receive. Please contact us as soon as possible using the contact form, expressing your wish to return. 

    Please see our FAQs for more information.

  • Every purchase supports the work of Royal Museums Greenwich

    All proceeds from all purchases made on the Royal Museums Greenwich online shop support the work of the museum. 

    Thank you for your continued support.