Daily Life and Commercial Activities in Ancient Roman Macedonia

Examining the guilds and professional associations driving ancient commerce in Hellenistic Roman Macedon. Establishment of a New Political Reality In 168-167 BC, we have the dissolution of the Macedonian kingdom by the Romans and a new political reality in the region. Aemilius Paullus, the victor of Pydna, gathered the representatives of Macedonian poleis and ethne[…]

Economic Growth in Medieval China

During this period, China’s huge cities dwarfed the cities of medieval Europe. Introduction The Song period was a time of great prosperity in China. Changes in agriculture, especially a boom in the production of rice, fueled the growth of the economy. Trade and business flourished. These developments had started during the Tang dynasty. Under the[…]

Medieval China’s Contacts with the Outside World

Exploring how the Chinese both welcomed and rejected foreign contacts. Introduction At times, the Chinese welcomed foreign contacts. Great cultural exchange resulted as new ideas and products flowed into and out of China. Buddhism, which originally came from India, reached its height of influence during the Tang dynasty. A Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (zhwoo-AN ZANG),[…]

Guilds: Skilled Privilege in the Middle Ages

Introduction A guild is an association of artisans or merchants who oversee the practice of their craft/trade in a particular area. The earliest types of guild formed as confraternities of tradesmen, normally operating in a single city and covering a single trade. They were organized in a manner something between a professional association, a trade[…]

Guilds from the Ancient to Medieval Worlds

Guilds secured the monopoly and the commerce of the cities, controlling the various activities and selling all kinds of goods. Already in the Roman era, associations of people practicing the same trade are attested: in the first century, they actively participated in the political life of the city (as shown by the electoral graffiti of[…]

The History of Loans and Their Importance

There are dozens of different ways to view history. You can see history from the perspective of technologies, in which case you read the world in terms of the Agricultural Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. You can think biologically, in Darwinian terms of evolution and survival of the fittest. You can think militarily, comparing the[…]

North American Trade and Transformation in the 18th Century

How did extraction, production, and exchange shape the physical and cultural landscape of North America? Introduction The contemporary North American landscape of cities, suburbs, and malls; highways, rails, and controlled rivers; fields, and fences; and factories, mines, and ports is the product of a long process of extraction, production, and exchange of natural resources: their[…]

Financial Intermediation in the Early Roman Empire

Evaluating the effectiveness of financial markets in the early Roman Empire. Abstract Here I use a theoretical hierarchy of financial sources to evaluate the effectiveness of financial markets in the early Roman Empire. I first review the theory of financial intermediation to describe the hierarchy of financial sources and survey briefly the history of financial[…]

Trade in Ancient Greece

The earliest written sources of Homer and Hesiod attest to the existence of trade (emporia) and merchants (emporoi) from the 8th century BCE. Introduction Trade was a fundamental aspect of the ancient Greek world and following territorial expansion, an increase in population movements, and innovations in transport, goods could be bought, sold, and exchanged in[…]

Exports for Precious Metals: Mercantilism in the Early Modern World

Mercantilism was a political movement and an economic theory, dominant in Europe between 1600 and 1800. Introduction Mercantilism is an economic system that dominated the major European trading nations during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. This “mercantile system” was based on the premise that national wealth and power were best served by increasing exports[…]

Ancient “Poop Sticks” Offer Clues to the Spread of Disease along the Silk Road

The parasites found within the 2,000-year-old-feces smeared on bamboo suggest more than commodities made the trip. By Jason Daley The Silk Road was a network of ancient commerce, connecting China with central Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It was established by the Han Dynasty in 130 B.C. and operated until 1453 when the Ottoman Empire[…]

An Historical Overview of Ancient Economic Thought

Discussions of economics have existed since ancient times but it was not a separate discipline until the nineteenth century. Introduction In the history of economic thought, early economic thought refers to ideas from before and during the Middle Ages. The earliest discussions of economics date back to ancient times, such as Chanakya’s Arthashastra or Xenophon’s[…]

International Trade and Institutional Change: Medieval Venice’s Response to Globalization

Starting in 1297, a small group of particularly wealthy merchants blocked political and economic competition. Abstract International trade can have profound effects on domestic institutions. We examine this proposition in the context of medieval Venice circa 800–1600. Early on, the growth of long-distance trade enriched a broad group of merchants who used their newfound economic[…]

China’s Ancient Silk Road

The Silk Road was a vast trade network connecting Eurasia and North Africa via land and sea routes. Introduction In the first century CE, during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, silk had become a big problem. The luxury fabric, imported at great cost from China, had become a symbol of decadence and excess among Romans.[…]

The Economy of Ancient Greece

Direct taxation was not well-developed in ancient Greece. Introduction The economy of ancient Greece was defined largely by the region’s dependence on imported goods. As a result of the poor quality of Greece’s soil, agricultural trade was of particular importance. The impact of limited crop production was somewhat offset by Greece’s paramount location, as its[…]

Technological Transfer and Innovation in Ancient Eurasia

Cultural, economic, and knowledge transfer occurred in spite of a seemingly long series of hurdles that had to be overcome. Introduction The pre-modern transfer of knowledge within Eurasia had to contend with a complex set of both physical and mental obstacles. Deserts, mountains and oceans had to be crossed, but so too did language barriers[…]

Ancient and Medieval China’s Silk Road

The European explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324 CE) traveled on these routes and described them in depth in his famous work. Introduction The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes, formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce between 130 BCE-1453 CE. As the Silk Road was not[…]

Trade in Medieval Europe

The full range of consumer goods of the period was set out to tempt the shopper and small retailer. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Trade and commerce in the medieval world developed to such an extent that even relatively small communities had access to weekly markets and, perhaps a day’s travel away, larger but less frequent[…]

North Africa’s Place in the Mediterranean Economy of Late Antiquity

The Mediterranean Sea was the economic focal point of the Roman Empire. By Michael GoodyearJ.D. CandidateUniversity of Michigan Law School Introduction The Mediterranean Sea was the economic focal point of the Roman Empire. Rome’s armies first established an empire across these waters beginning back in the times of the Roman Republic. In 200 CE, the Mediterranean[…]

The Economy of Ptolemaic Egypt

The wealth of Egypt was owed in large part to the unrivaled fertility of the Nile. By Arienne KingHistorian Introduction Ptolemaic Egypt rapidly established itself as an economic powerhouse of the ancient world at the end of the 4th century BCE. The wealth of Egypt was owed in large part to the unrivalled fertility of[…]

Free Trade in the Ancient Middle East

For a long time, Baghdad was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Today many people believe that free markets and industrialization are new inventions. In fact, during the early Middle Ages a market model developed in the Islamic world. Europeans envied the economic, scientific and intellectual progress taking place in the Middle East[…]

The End of China’s Canton Trade System

Despite their common interests, relations between the foreigners and the Chinese community grew more tense during the early 19th century. Despite their common interests, relations between the foreigners and the Chinese community grew more tense during the early 19th century. The increasing amount of trade and larger number of ships inevitably brought more conflict. The[…]

The Canton Trade System in China in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Canton’s foreign quarter, sited between the city wall and the river, fit comfortably into the classic design of south Chinese cities. Canton Trade Introduction During the passage from Macau up the Pearl River foreigners passed through densely populated agricultural lands and market towns, but they never saw a major city until they reached Guangzhou. We[…]

Economic Relations Between Europe and the World in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras

A vivid picture of the emergence of the global market and the beginnings of global competition. Introduction This article sketches the beginnings and central trends in the development of economic ties between Europe and regions outside Europe from 1450 to 1950. The focus is on the increasing diversity and volume of goods exchanged, and the[…]

Transport, Tourism, and Technology in Portugal in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Examining historic economic links with Portugal and its relationships abroad. By Dr. Ana Cardoso de Matos (left), Dr. Maria Ana Bernardo (right), and Dr. Maria Luísa F.N. dos Santos (not pictured)Professors of HistoryUniversidade de Évora Tourism and Transport: Interconnected Journeys In recent years[1], tourism has experienced increasing interest from researchers in various areas, a fact[…]

The Medieval Law Merchant: The Tyranny of a Construct

Medieval commerce had little space for a specialized law, and merchants had little need for it. Abstract The story of a medieval law merchant has a strong hold on scholars interested in private ordering. Despite numerous historical works demonstrating the falsity of the myth, it continues to be discussed regularly in scholarship as if it[…]