Ancient Civilizations: Economics -- Commerce

Figure 1.--

Commerce in the modern sence of international trade was not possible until agriculture developed and settled communities developed. Hunter gathers were not traders. They could not carry quantities of goods as they moved about. This thaey had little to trade. As agricultural people did not move about like nomads, they were limited to locally available resources. With settled life, we have urban development and a range of technological innovations. All of this led to the need or demand for materials not locally available like furs, metals, salt, timber, and much else. The result was the birth of international trade. Cities located close to each other did not have much to trade. The basically harvested the same crops and produced the same goods. It was cities at distance from each other that had needed trade goods. What was needed for commerce was transport. Boats beginning with rafts have very ancient origins, but boats that could carry significant cargoes are much more recent. This probably meant planked boats which developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt (about 3000 BC). This permitted the efficent movement of goods any distance for the first time, but rivers often did go where the trader wanted to go even sea transport was developed. This problem began to be solved about the same time. With the domestication of the donkey land trade routes, meaning possible invasion routes. came into existence (about 2800 BC). The Assyrians were one of the great warrior nations of Mesopotamia. It is no accident that the Assyrians were also important traders. Some of the first documented records on interrnational trade come from Assyrian cuneiform tablets (19th century BC). They came from as Assyriam merchant colony at Kanesh in Cappadocia, central Anatolia. From that time. international trade has been and continues to be a major factor in world affairs. Yet throughout history a fine line separated trade and commerce. We belive that the first postulated war in history resulted from trade leading to war--the destruction of Tell Hamoukar (c3500 BC). This was clearly evident with the ancient Greeks, but in more modrn history we see it with the Portugese, Durch, English, and others. And war as opposed to violent squirmishes could only begin with substantial populations and settled lands to defend. Af first only wars between neigboring people was possible. Waging wars at any distance required beasts of burden to transport weapons, food, and water. Again the domestication of the humble donkey made this possible.


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Created: 6:41 AM 3/19/2019
Last updated: 6:42 AM 3/19/2019