From the Marketplace to the Market

I am reading Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization – and learning a lot from it.

From the very beginning, people have engaged in trading – despite the dangers, and sometimes the long distances involved. I lived for awhile in a Mayan village in Guatemala, and I enjoyed watching the woman’s market there. In many cultures, trading is considered the business of women – because they are so good at it.

Once men become involved, the activity changes fundamentally – and trading becomes a business for warriors. And the subjugation of women began.

In Mesopotamia this transition had already occurred in the third millennium BC! As recorded on their cuneiform script, which was developed at first for recording business transactions – temple offerings. It didn’t take long for money to appear, and make business even easier.

Long-distance trading, however was still a hazardous business – and took a long time.

This changed with Industrialization and its technology – the Sailing Ship – that could sail from Europe to India, and back – routinely. Banking developed to finance these ventures. And armies and navies to back them up.

The Market appeared, in England and Holland, where anything from anywhere could be traded (Prostitution, the first profession, being established much earlier).

This put the American colonies of Britain at a severe disadvantage. They sold their agricultural products (mainly tobacco) on the English market – which was rigged to take advantage of them.

They rebelled – successfully.

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