Book Review – ‘Mediterranean Wooden Shipbuilding: Economy, technology and institutions in Syros in the nineteenth century’ by Gerassimos D. Pagratis
Brill’s Studies in Maritime History is a recent initiative of the Leiden-based publishing house, headed by series editor Gelina Harlaftis. The second volume in this series, by Apostolos Delis, researcher at the Institute of Mediterranean Studies in Crete, deals with the history of the Mediterranean wooden shipbuilding industry in the nineteenth century and focuses on the example of Syros. This island at the heart of the Cyclades made its own special contribution to maritime history, as the main hub of transit trade and shipping in the newly founded Greek State in the age of sail, reaching its heyday in the years of the Crimean War.
The singular role of the poor and barren Cycladic island in shipping and maritime trade began to unfold from the third decade of the nineteenth century, when refugees of the struggle for Greek independence (1821–9) arrived there, bringing with them shipping know-how and capital, as well as a cosmopolitan mentality and access to primarily family-based business networks. These factors, as well as the privileges that the island’s old-established Catholic inhabitants already enjoyed and their neutrality during the Greek War of Independence, set the framework in which its capital Hermoupolis ensured its outstanding place in the economic life of the Greek state for most of the nineteenth century …