Barry Cunliffe taught archaeology in the Universities of Bristol and Southampton and was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2008, thereafter becoming Emeritus Professor. He has excavated widely in Britain (Fishbourne, Bath, Danebury, Hengistbury Head, Brading) and in the Channel Islands, Brittany, and Spain, and has been President of the Council for British Archaeology and of the Society of Antiquaries, Governor of the Museum of London, and a Trustee of the British Museum. He is currently a Commissioner of English Heritage. His many publications include The Ancient Celts (1997), Facing the Ocean (2001), The Druids: A Very Short Introduction (2010), Britain Begins (2012), and By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean (2015), all published by Oxford University Press. He received a knighthood in 2006.
Cunliffe writes sparse, clear, uncluttered prose that never tires... The maps are staggeringly good, all drawn with great freedom, in defiance of hidebound cartographical conventions... The copious illustrations are well chosen, too - always engaging, often dramatic... Overall, the total effect of On the Ocean is to encourage a new way of looking at European history using a maritime perspective. I hope it changes the way people think: it is good enough to do so. * Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Literary Review * A grand and beautifully illustrated work, offering a fascinating perspective from which to understand human development and achievement. * Michael Scott, BBC History Magazine * An absorbing and lively account of the early Atlantic and Mediterranean. Importantly, it reflects the latest research and delves deeply into the motives of those who sailed them: not just where and how they travelled, but what fears these seas evoked. * David Abulafia, History Today * Another magisterial tour de force replete with informative charts and beautiful illustrations... [On the Ocean is] an extraordinary achievement, all the more so for its engaging and elegant style. * David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer * The book adopts a familiar format to Cunliffes other recent volumes and supplies everything we have come to expect. It is hugely ambitious in scope, fluently written and beautifully illustrated with panoramic photographs of landscapes and monuments, plus trademark mapping... In between, the narrative takes in deep geological history, the nature of winds, tides and currents, the night sky, the peopling of islands and coastal areas and details of ship- and boat-building technology. * Robert Witcher, Antiquity Reviews, December 2017 * On the Ocean is a book all nautical (and terrestrial) archaeologists should read... It provides a comprehensive overview from a seafaring perspective of the Mediterranean and Atlantic from the beginnings of humankinds voyaging in these waters to the discovery of the Americas. * Colin Martin (University of St Andrews), The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology * On the Ocean is a magnificent book, being carefully crafted and requiring all of Barry Cunliffe's encyclopaedic knowledge. The image portrayed, through multilateral means, offers a coherent narrative that can be followed through different times and spaces, offering both the overall view and the detailed developments. * Stefan Vasilache, Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology No. 4.4 * On the Ocean is about overcoming the bias of traditional land based narratives, emphasising maritime Europe and what this reveals about our past. As such it is an important and enjoyable book, and one that deserves to be widely read. * Jon Henderson, The Prehistoric Society * This beguiling, thought-provoking, sumptuously illustrated, and engaging book is essential reading. * MS, Current World Archaeology *