Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

8/1/2005 - 7/31/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

The Origins of Commerce: Merchants and Their Activity in Early Mesopotamia

FAIN: FB-51873-05

Steven J. Garfinkle
Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA 98225-5996)

This project is a study of the origins of commerce in the historical record and its relationship with early state formation in Mesopotamia. To achieve this, I will undertake a thorough study of merchant activity in the late third and early second millennia BC in southern Mesopotamia, the area of modern southern Iraq. The merchants and their activities can be studied on the basis of their archives, which survive among the tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets that have been unearthed from early Mesopotamia, and especially from the end of the third millennium BC. Because of the wide range of their activities, the merchants provide a rich source of information for investigating the early political economy.