quite knows when trade began. It might have began when two parties
decided to exchange their own produce for some other produce that
their neighbor had. This became known as barter trade, where a farmer
could exchange a certain amount of his wheat for another farmer's
pail of milk.
fluorishes under peaceful conditions. Because trade generates income,
especially for exporters of goods, rulers of most nations welcomed
trade. Thus, many began a series of standarizing weights and measures
in order to facilitate trade.
of the great civilizations conducted some form of trade or other,
and what they traded upon depended on their needs. A formidable
trading force in Greek times was Carthage, a Phoenician colony in
North Africa. In fact, it is even acknowledged now that Carthage
used to be one of the richest city around. However, little evidence
now remains of the products it traded in, as most of these were
perishables like textiles and slaves. The major reason was that
it maintained a monopoly exchange trade with Phoenician, where they
would obtain tin and silver in exchange for foodstuff and consumer
items. Carthage was able to engage in trade in foodstuffs as it
itself was able to produce these items, since the land surrounding
the city was extremely fertile and highly suitable for agriculture.
In addition, the city also had specialized industries in craft activities,
like the weaving of cloth and the working of metals. Remarkably,
it managed to maintain its monopoly position by destroying all intruders
with the huge mercenary armies it hired, who were paid with the
gold coins that they themselves minted.
For the Greeks, one of their primary imports were agricultural goods,
like barley and wheat, which they imported from Scily and Egypt.
Like most Tunisiens, they exported wine to the other parts of the
Mediterranean area. The Greeks also had close links with Cyrus,
whom they bought Copper from. Another notable source of trade for
the Greeks were slaves; since slavery was so widely practised, this
was a great source of profit for the merchants. The cosmetics and
pottery market were also important ones for the Greek economy. Greek
trade was usually carried out with ships over sea routes, as land
barriers made travelling over land routes impossible. Trading was
a dangerous occupation because it involved travelling by ships.
In those days, when compasses and navigation charts did not exist,
most Greek merchants refused to travel in bad weather or at night,
because navigation depended solely upon sight of the land.
Romans, when they came into power, only expanded trade relations.
Their vast network of roads facilitated transporation, which thus
made trade more convenient. Furthermore, in the Punic wars, Rome
defeated Carthage and razed it to the ground. Thereafter, Rome became
the undisputed economic and trading power in the region. Rome became
an international centre where goods from all over the world poured
into, including silk from China and papyrus from Egypt.
has always been an indispensable part of the economy of any civilization.
Even till today, trade is still indispensable and the major livelihood
of many nations. Why do you think this is so? Does your country
depend on trade to survive? Do you think it is ethical of a country
to impose trade sanctions on another country over a completely unrelevant
matter, eg. political issues?
busy Greek harbor was the meeting place of many ships from all nations.
The Roman cloth vendor shows off his materials to prospective buyers.