Economic models in Ancient Near East economies

  • Grzegorz First


Input definitions:

  • Economy – the core is the allocation of goods and resources
  • Model – theoretical and simplified concept of reality the aim of which is to illustrate mechanisms governing the reality

Two assumptions:

  • we do not treat Near East economy as a whole
  • problem with precise statistical data referring to the ancient times


  • circulations: production, storage, distribution and consumption
  •  G=f(P, R, T, I), where G is global income (produced goods),
    P – people, R – resources, T – technology and I – institutions
  • cooperation between state (including religious institutions) and private sector
  • question of existence of market economy - demand and supply with price or its equivalent as a tool of relation

Terms and persons to clarify:

  • nmḥ (Egyptian) - people, who had own land and paid taxes to the royal treasure = ἐλεύθερος (Greek)
  • tamkaru (Akkadian) - royal clerks who performed long-distance trade for fixed prices
  • embeddedness - economic behaviour in certain historical and social conditions as well as cultural and even religious ones
  • John Maynard Keynes – British economist (1883-1946) - Keynesianism idea assumes a great role of the state as the creator of demand

Key problem: correspondence of contemporary economic models with the reality of the ancient Near East

Question of the talk: translation of economic rules current in our times into different realities in the earlier times – continuity vs. change

How to Cite
First, G. (2020). Economic models in Ancient Near East economies. BAF-Online: Proceedings of the Berner Altorientalisches Forum, 2.
Panel 6: Qualifying continuity and change