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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses trade across Europe and Asia up to 1750. It describes merchants, towns, and mercantile strategy in ca. 3500–143 bce; trade under the aegis of empire, ca. 560 bce–600 ce; China, Islam, and the Mongols in 589–1500; and Europe in the East, ca. 1100–1750. In Asia Minor, distribution clusters near the source-points, then fall off in proportion to distance. What is clear is that the habit of exchange extends far back into the human past. This article's discussion deals with long-distance traffic in luxury goods, and only for Eurasia and parts of Africa. While evidence of ancient trade is not lacking elsewhere, it is only for Eurasia that one can track the local connections that would eventually be knitted into a global framework. From about 3500 bce, commercial institutions slowly radiated outwards from southern Mesopotamia.

Keywords: mercantile, China, Islam, Mesopotamia, ancient trade, Mongols, Europe, Asia

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