chapter  3
17 Pages

The Golden Age of Temple Capitalism: Mesopotamia and India 2250–2000 BCE

In his magisterial Story of Civilization, historian Will Durant was bold enough to outline four essential elements that anchor a healthy civilization. He listed them as

economic security,• political organization and stability (the rule of law),• a common body of moral traditions, and• the pursuit of knowledge and the arts.•

Our survey of the economic life of the ancient world has already listed the acquisitive instinct so prominently. “Culture suggests agriculture,” Durant added, for the simple reason that, without a reliable and sustainable supply of food and water, humankind is subject to “the precarious fortunes of the chase.”1 But if culture suggests agriculture, civilization suggests the city, from the Latin, civitas. Chapters 1 and 2 discussed studied three important cities-Uruk, Memphis, and Ebla-each rising to prominence as pivots of a distinct civilization. We have seen that Sargon’s Akkadian Empire had proved immensely benefi cial to the rising merchant class of Mesopotamia, perhaps copying the pattern that had made Ebla mighty still. The collapse of the Akkadian uber-state sometime after 2300 BCE fragmented the economy of the Fertile Crescent, but this would not ring in the end of economic and political advances.