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date: 07 October 2022

trade, Greeklocked

trade, Greeklocked

  • Paul Cartledge

Extract

Exchange in some form has probably existed since the emergence of the first properly human social groups. Trade, whether local, regional, interregional or international, is a much later development. It is a certain inference from the extant documentary records in Linear B script that the world of Mycenaean age palace-economy knew all four main forms of commerce (see mycenaean civilization; mycenaean language), and a reasonable guess that a considerable portion of the long-distance carrying trade was in the hands of specialized professional traders. But whether that trade was ‘administered’ (state-directed) or ‘free-enterprise’ is impossible to say. It is one sign among many of the economic recession experienced by the Greek world generally between about 1200 and 800 bce that in these dark centuries regional and international trade dwindled to vanishing-point; the few known professional traders were typically men of non-Greek, especially *Phoenician, origin. See traders.In book 8 of Homer's Odyssey the sea-battered hero finds his way at last to the comparative calm and safety of Phaeacia, a never-never land set somewhere in the golden west (see scheria), only to be roundly abused by a Phaeacian aristocrat for looking like a sordidly mercenary merchant skipper rather than a gentleman amateur sportsman.

Subjects

  • Ancient Economy

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