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This book details the development of long-distance trade in the Ancient Mediterranean World and the institutions, both private and public, which made it possible.

Terpstra, Taco

Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean

Private Order and Public Institutions

Series:The Princeton Economic History of the Western World 79


    65,95 € / $75.00 / £58.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
    Copyright year:
    To be published:
    April 2019
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    Aims and Scope

    How ancient Mediterranean trade thrived through state institutions

    From around 700 BCE until the first centuries CE, the Mediterranean enjoyed steady economic growth through trade, reaching a level not to be regained until the early modern era. This process of growth coincided with a process of state formation, culminating in the largest state the ancient Mediterranean would ever know, the Roman Empire. Subsequent economic decline coincided with state disintegration. How are the two processes related?

    In Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean, Taco Terpstra investigates how the organizational structure of trade benefited from state institutions. Although enforcement typically depended on private actors, traders could utilize a public infrastructure, which included not only courts and legal frameworks but also socially cohesive ideologies. Terpstra details how business practices emerged that were based on private order, yet took advantage of public institutions.

    Focusing on the activity of both private and public economic actors—from Greek city councilors and Ptolemaic officials to long-distance traders and Roman magistrates and financiers—Terpstra illuminates the complex relationship between economic development and state structures in the ancient Mediterranean.


    9 b/w illus., 6 maps
    General/trade;Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;

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    Taco Terpstra is assistant professor of classics and history at Northwestern University. He is the author of Trading Communities in the Roman World.

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