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This book provides the first global analysis of the relationship between trade and civilisation from the beginning of civilisation 3000 BC until the modern era 1600 AD. Encompassing the various networks including the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean trade, Near Eastern family traders of the Bronze Age, and the Medieval Hanseatic League, it examines the role of the individual merchant, the products of trade, the role of the state, and the technical conditions for land and sea transport that created diverging systems of trade and in the development of global trade networks. Trade networks, however, were not durable. The book focuses on the establishment and decline of great trading network systems, and how they related to the expansion of civilisation, and to different forms of social and economic exploitation. Case studies focus on local conditions as well as global networks until the sixteenth century when the whole globe was connected by trade.
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