Trade provides mankind's most significant meeting place, the market. In primitive societies only religious events - cult rituals, or rites of passage such as marriage - bring people together in a comparable way. But in these cases the participants are already linked, by custom or kinship.
The process of barter brings a crowd together in a more random fashion. New ideas, along with precious artefacts, have always travelled along trade routes. And the natural week, the shared rhythm of a commu... more >>
nity, has frequently been the space between market days.
Agricultural produce and everyday household goods tend to make short journeys to and from a local market. Trade in a grander sense, between distant places, is a different matter. It involves entrepreneurs and middlemen, people willing to accept delay and risk in the hope of a large profit. The archive found at Ebla gives a glimpse of an early trading city, from the middle of the third millennium BC.
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