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The aim is to clarify and problematize the socioeconomic roles of entrepreneurs (including merchants, traders, creditors, and financiers) in Late Bronze Age societies of the Eastern Mediterranean world. The region is bounded by kingdoms of the 14th to early 12th century BCE as represented in archives of clay tablets written in cuneiform and linear scripts. This encompasses an area stretching from the Aegean to Assyria and from Hatti to Egypt at a time of unprecedented sophistication in international relations. I focus on long-distance commerce in particular since it was, where trade is documented, the most lucrative, and arguably most influential socioeconomically, form of exchange. (...) By closely examining the practices and organization of entrepreneurs and their role in social and economic relationships, I empirically and theoretically orient the analysis toward exchange relations. In broadest terms this analysis reveals that professional traders constituted a highly dynamic, even destabilizing, force in society that was checked by more traditional institutions. Even as traditionalism balanced the entrepreneurial elements of society, trade activities brought about material and ideological changes that transformed culture and the lives of those living within it.
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