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The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets$
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Keith Roberts

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153270

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153270.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets

Keith Roberts

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter first explains the rationale behind the present volume. The author briefly recounts the events leading up to his realization that nobody has yet described the ancient origins of business practices and how it developed into a significant part of economic life. The chapter then provides an overview of the history of business, the origins of which can be traced back to Mesopotamia about five thousand years ago. Business became more than a marginal activity through the Greek combination of coins and markets. From the sixth century b.c.e. an entrepreneurial market system became central to the urban economy of Athens and other democratic city-states. By 200 b.c.e. Alexander the Great and his followers had spread this economic system to hundreds of cities throughout Western Asia and the Mediterranean region. The Romans established entrepreneurial market systems in the parts of Africa and Western Europe they conquered. They invented multinational business corporations, and between 200 b.c.e. and 200 c.e.their empire's favorable business environment allowed firms to attain considerable influence and importance.

Keywords:   business history, economic life, Mesopotamia, Greeks, business practices, Romans

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