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This list concentrates on the economy of the Bronze Age, as it was an important element that helped link the ancient Near East with the broader ancient Old World in Central Asia, India, and Europe through long-distance commerce. This trade helped facilitate emerging patterns of consumerism, entrepreneurial spirit, and the spread of the alphabet and other social ideas. The economy, however, seems alien to us as it was complex and had many aspects to it, spanning from elites in palaces and temples to common urban and nomadic households.
The Temple Economies
1. Lipiński, Edward, and Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (1970- ), eds. 1979. '''''State and Temple Economy in the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of the International Conference''''' Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 5-6. Leuven: Departement Oriëntalistiek.
While we often think of temples as being places of religion and nothing more, the reality is temples were foundational and if not critical to economic activity for many Bronze Age cities. Temples were places that held the identity of cities, where the local gods would be housed and worshiped. However, temples also controlled lands and had many people working for them, sometimes acting like land managers and renting or leasing their lands to be farmed. In addition, temples also controlled production of things, including beer and textiles. This required a lot of labor and temples were able to control this labor process, forming what amounted to be factories of workers.
Palaces and Trade
2. Moran, William L. 1992. '''''The Amarna Letters''''' Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
The book covers an interesting history in the Near East during the 14th century BC, when the city of Amarna briefly became the capital in Egypt during the reign of Akhenaten. This period saw a large number of correspondences between vassals and kings with the Egyptian court in the common language of Akkadian. The international correspondences between the kings of Babylon, Assyria, Mitanni, Hittites, and Cyprus demonstrate the gift exchanges and sending of goods between palaces and governments during this time.
Households and Daily Economy
3. Goddeeris, Anne. 2002. '''''Economy and Society in Northern Babylonia in the Early Old Babylonian Period (ca. 2000-1800 BC)''''' Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 109. Leuven ; Sterling, Va. : Leuven: Peeters ; Dép. Oosterse Studies.
Nomadic pastoralism made a critical contribution to the Near East economy in the Bronze Age. Often tribal groups would create social connections, through marriage or blood ties, with urban dwellers. This gave urban dwellers and nomads the opportunity to either become nomadic or an urban dweller, while also helping to create social links critical for trade and exchange. Nomads often carried items across the Near East, such as textiles, while they also utilized goods found in cities such as agricultural products. This symbiotic relationship allowed both types of lifestyles, urbanism and nomadism, to thrive.
6. Barjamovic, Gojko. 2011. '''''A Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period'''''. CNI Publications 38. Copenhagen: Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies, University of Copenhagen : Museum Tusculanum Press.
This is a classic book that describes best how trade caravans function in the Old Assyrian Period (late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC), specifically the prices of commodities like wool and silver, itineraries of travel, and the types of investment that went into the trade. The Old Assyrian caravans helped defined what private enterprise looked like in the ancient Near East during the Bronze Age. We see network of families that navigated the politics of the Bronze Age to trade items across vast distances using donkey to carry the load. The trade ultimately linked Central Asia with Anatolia, exchanging tins, wool, textiles, gold, and other products.
The Ports and Seafaring
8. Wachsmann, Shelley. 2009. '''''Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant'''''. 2. print. Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series. College Station, Tex: Texas A & M Univ. Press.
The Middle and Late Bronze Ages were ages of consumerism in many respects. We see heavy use of wine, olive oils, bronzes, perfumes, and other luxuries. The ports along the Levant, such as Byblos and Ugarit, played critical roles in trade network that brought luxury goods to a wide consumer market and also provide the produce of the region to other areas. While this had a benefit in commerce, this also provided the mechanism for the spread of the alphabet and intermingling of Near Eastern and Greek/Aegean ideas. Consumerism began to be more than simply something for the elites but the masses, what we might call the middle class, began to be active participants.
10. Cline, Eric H. 1994. '''''Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: International Trade and the Late Bronze Age Aegean BAR International Series 591. Oxford: Tempus Reparatum.