French fleet with Barbarossa at the siege of Nice. Author: Matrakci Nasu, 16th century. Source: Wikipedia

Trade and Civilisation from Prehistory to the Early Modern Era

Trade and commerce bind the world together and creates wealth. Trade networks, however, were never durable. New book examines the diverging systems in a global historical context.

Trade and Civilisation: Economic Networks and Cultural Ties, from Prehistory to the Early Modern Era
Ed by Kristian Kristiansen, Thomas Lindkvist, and Janken Myrdal
Cambridge University Press 2018
ISBN-10: 1108425410
ISBN-13: 978-1108425414


This book provides the first global analysis of the relationship between trade and civilisation from the beginning of civilisation in 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.


1. Theorizing trade and civilization Kristian Kristiansen
2. Cloth and currency: on the ritual-economics of Eurasian textile circulation and the ‘origins’ of trade, fifth to second millennia BC Toby C. Wilkinson
3. Prices and Values Origins and early history in the Near East David A. Warburton
4. The rise of Bronze Age peripheries and the expansion of international trade 1950–1100 BC Kristian Kristiansen
5. Interlocking commercial networks and the infrastructure of trade in western Asia during the Bronze Age Gojko Barjamovic
6. Mycenaean Glocalism: Greek political economies and international trade Michael L. Galaty
7. Deconstructing civilisation: a ‘neolithic’ alternative Michael Rowlands
8. Marginalizing civilization: the Phoenician redefinition of power ca. 1300–800 BCE Christopher M. Monroe
9. The birth of a single Afro-Eurasian world-system (second century BC–sixth century CE) Philippe Beaujard
10. On the Silk Road. Trade in the Tarim? Susan Whitfield
11. Trade, traders, and trading systems: macro-modeling of trade, commerce, and civilization in the Indian Ocean Rahul Oka
12. Trade and civilization in Medieval East Africa: socioeconomic networks Chapurukha M. Kusimba
13. Conflictive trade, values, and power relations in maritime trading polities of the tenth to the sixteenth centuries in the Philippines Laura Junker
14. The Hanseatic League as an economic and social phenomenon: archaeo-ceramic case studies in cultural transfer and resistance in Western and Northern Europe, c. 1250–1550 David Gaimster
15. Elliot Smith reborn? A view of prehistoric globalization from the island southeast Asian and Pacific margins Matthew Spriggs
16. Trade-light: the political economy of Polynesian and Andean civilizations Timothy Earle
17. Long-distance exchange and ritual technologies of power in the pre-Hispanic Andes Alf Hornborg
18. Empire, civilization, and trade – the Roman experience in world history Peter Bang
19. World trade in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries Thomas Lindkvist and Janken Myrdal
20. Postscript: getting the goods for civilization Jonathan Friedman.