What Was the Mediterranean Sea Called in Ancient Times?

The Mediterranean Sea is a vast body of water that is located between Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has been a crucial part of human history for thousands of years, serving as a major hub for trade, transportation, and cultural exchange. However, the name we know it by today is not the same as what it was called in ancient times.

In ancient times, the Mediterranean Sea was known by several different names. Here are some of the most notable ones:

Mare Nostrum: This Latin term means “Our Sea” and was used by the Romans to refer to the Mediterranean. The Romans were known for their maritime prowess and dominated much of the Mediterranean region during their reign.

Mediterraneus: This Latin term means “Inland” or “Middle of the Earth” and was used to describe the sea’s location between Europe and Africa.

Hesperium Mare: This Latin term means “Sea of the West” and was used by ancient Greeks to describe the western part of the Mediterranean.

Erythraean Sea: This Greek term means “Red Sea” but actually refers to parts of both the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. It was named after a particular type of seaweed that had a reddish color.

White Sea: This Greek term referred to the eastern part of the Mediterranean and was named after its relatively pale color compared to other seas like the Black Sea.

As you can see, there were many different names for this important body of water in ancient times. Each name reflects different cultural perspectives and historical contexts.

The Importance of The Mediterranean

The importance of this sea cannot be overstated. It has been a center for trade since ancient times, with goods flowing between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Phoenicians were one group who took advantage of this strategic location, establishing a vast trading network throughout the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean was also home to some of the most famous empires in history. The Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans all controlled vast territories around the sea at various times. The influence of these empires can still be seen in the architecture, language, and culture of the region today.


In conclusion, while we now know this body of water as the Mediterranean Sea, it had many different names in ancient times. Each name reflected its importance and significance to different cultures throughout history. Today, it remains a vital hub for trade and cultural exchange, continuing its rich legacy from thousands of years ago.