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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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Middle Eastern Empires, 1600–323 b.c.e.

Middle Eastern Empires, 1600–323 b.c.e.

(p.28) 2 Middle Eastern Empires, 1600–323 b.c.e.
The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets

Keith Roberts

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the expansion of business activity from Mesopotamia to the rest of the Middle East under the various empires that new military technology empowered shortly after King Hammurabi's death. Commercial states emerged during this period, like those of the Minoans, Mycenaeans, and Phoenicians. As states that derived at least some of their support from sovereign powers, these were not true businesses. But they did derive much of their income from profitably selling goods and services to willing customers, and usually behaved accordingly. Another critical business development was the emergence of sovereign statecraft, which allowed rulers to govern increasingly large territories longer and more peacefully. In the process they built roads and improved communications, unified diverse communities, and forced many outlying people to join the exchange economy. Although these measures greatly improved business conditions and led to much more business activity, the empires retained the old social structure, and the choices of the powerful continued to regulate economic life.

Keywords:   business activities, Mesopotamia, Middle East, military technology, commercial states, sovereign statecraft

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