Mare Nostrum


Mare nostrum – our sea, is the term referring to the Mediterranean that was introduced by the Romans in the 2nd century, after they had removed Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the Carthaginians. The other cultures that developed along the 46,000 kilometres of the Mediterranean coast, have given Mare nostrum various different names through the centuries.

The ancient Egyptians called it the Great Green, perhaps due to the reeds and sea roses, as well as the silt and deposits that floated down the Nile and into the sea. In biblical texts, the Israelites had numerous different names: Western Sea, Back Sea, Great Sea, Philistine Sea. Today the Mediterranean is known to Israelis as Yam ha­Tikhon, a literal translation into Hebrew of the German term.

The Arabs call it al­Bahr al­Abiad al­Mutawassit, the White Sea of the Middle. To the Turks it is Akdeniz, the White Sea or Southern Sea, as the Ottomans named the compass points as colours: white for south, green or yellow for east, black for north (hence the Black Sea) and red for west. The Berbers call it Ilel Agrakal – the sea between the countries.

From the liner notes of the ‘Mare Nostrum’ CD­ by Jordi Savall