Iron Age Economy - West Asia
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Iron Age Economy - West Asia


(Phoenician glass
found in Carthage)

The rise of the Assyrian empire (in modern Iraq) and of the Phoenicians (in modern Lebanon) about 900 BC created a new economic boom in West Asia. The Phoenicians traded all over the Mediterranean Sea in ships, and established trading posts at Carthage and in Spain and Sicily. They made glass beads and little glass perfume jars to sell, and they also sold things that other people had made, like pepper and cinnamon from India. The Phoenicians traded these things for Spanish silver, and for slaves and wood and furs. They traded with the Etruscans, and then with the Romans. They also traded with the Egyptians.

The Assyrians were also active traders. They acted as middlemen between India and Iran and the rest of West Asia.

Learn by doing: make some perfume
Parthian and Sassanian economy

Bibliography and further reading about the West Asian economy in the Iron Age:

Find Out About Mesopotamia: What Life Was Like in Ancient Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, by Lorna Oakes (2004). Easy reading.

The Assyrians, by Elaine Landau (1997). Easy reading.

Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture, by William H. Stiebing (2002). Expensive, and hard to read, but it's a good up to date account.

Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Jean Bottero and others (2001).

Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat (2002).

West Asian Economy - Parthians
More about West Asia
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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