An Oceans Abcdarium created by the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany


Dimitra Kanta

For the cultures living adjacent to the Mediterranean Basin, the sea has always been an important source of food and income, but it has also been the route to migration and to loss. Since as early as the neolithic period, humans have used the oceans as a means of traveling. Roughly 9,000 years ago they colonized Europe, traveling from the Near East via island hopping. Many tales of the wonders and perils of sea voyages are part of the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean, such as Homer’s Odyssey.Today, the Mediterranean still is an important yet dangerous route of migration—according to the UNHCR, in 2021, more than 53,000 asylum seekers arrived by sea in Italy alone. At least 1,924 people died or went missing trying to cross the sea from North Africa.The video is a shadow play which interprets the song ʻFirtinaʼ (Turkish) or ʻΣτο’πα και στο ξαναλέωʼ (Greek), a traditional song of Anatolia. In the song, a person begs their loved one to not go inside the water, because they are too afraid of the rough sea. It is performed by Dimitra Kanta.

Sources: Paschou, Peristera et al., “Maritime route of colonization of Europe”, PNAS, vol. 111, issue. 25, (2014): 9211-9216.

Protection, saving Lives & Solutions for Refugees in dangerous Journeys. Routes towards the Central & West Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic. UNHCR’s 2022-2023 Updated Risk Mitigation Strategy and 2022 Appeal, edited by UNHCR 2022.