Darryl L. Byrd
PIRACY IN THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN.
(Under the direction of Dr. Anthony Papalas) Department Of History, March 1998.
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the topic of piracy in the ancient Mediterranean Sea (from c. 2500 B.C. through 65 B.C.) using materials from traditional and maritime archaeology, as well as historical documents and inscriptions. The foremost book on this subject was written over seventy-five years ago by Henry Ormerod, whose work did not include archaeological data and which has not been updated, in English, in the intervening years. Data from archaeology provides information on how people lived and worked during the time in question, this information can be used to examine the role of pirates in the ancient world.
This thesis uses a wide variety of primary sources, including works by ancient authors such as the historical works of Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, and Diodorus Siculus; as well as the fictional works of Homer. Greek and Roman inscriptions are also primary sources used in this thesis as they often provided direct accounts of pirate activities. Secondary sources include archaeological data from terrestrial and maritime sites that have been examined throughout the Mediterranean. Analysis of archaeological data provides information which can illuminate aspects of piracy over time. Shipwreck analysis indicates trade routes used by merchants and pirates, providing a guide to where pirates were located and the areas in which they operated at various times in the ancient world. Cargo analysis supplies data on the economic impetus for piracy by indicating the types and amounts of goods being transported over the sea. A combination of archaeological data and a review of existing, ancient and modern, works on piracy provides a better understanding of piracy in the Mediterranean Sea from the Minoan Period to the Roman Republic.