This book argues that long-distance trade in luxury items – such as diamonds, gold, cinnamon, scented woods, ivory and pearls, all of which require little overhead in their acquisition and were relatively easy to transport – played a foundational role in the creation of what we would call "global trade" in the first millennium CE. The book coins the term "dark matter economy" to better describe this complex – though mostly invisible – relationship to normative realities.

The first full integration of dark matter economy with the emerging global flows took place in South India and Sri Lanka at the beginning of the millennium. The book then moves to other places in the world – "sweet spots" – where a particular type of affluence was generated through the trade in luxury goods. This upstream affluence manifested itself in the creation of shrines, palaces, temples and engineering works that all thickened the landscape of memory, control and extraction and also served as a defense mechanism against intrusions from afar. The book also explains the collapse of dark matter economy as a result of the cumulative energies of colonialism, modernization and nationalism that make it hard for us today to come to terms with this history.

The Long Millennium will appeal to students and scholars alike studying the trade networks and economics of the early Middle Ages as well as anyone interested in the effect of trade on medieval society in the first millennium CE.

chapter |9 pages


Leading Questions

part 111|38 pages

chapter 1|10 pages

The Case of Musa I

chapter 3|15 pages

Cross-Ecological Delivery Economies

part |115 pages

Part 2

chapter 1|15 pages

“The Most Outlying Lands”

chapter 2|16 pages

The Sri Lanka Wealth Rush

chapter 3|13 pages

South Indian Emergence

chapter 4|13 pages

The Central Role of Borneo

chapter 5|9 pages

The Indonesian Seaway

chapter 7|15 pages

The East African Coastal Sweet Spot

chapter 8|14 pages

The North Sea Latitude Sweet Spot

part |44 pages

Part 3

chapter 1|8 pages

Beyond the Binary

chapter 2|12 pages

Structural Asymmetries

chapter 3|14 pages

Institutions Without Institutionality

chapter 4|8 pages

Crossing Chieftain Geographies

part |80 pages

Part 4

chapter 1|18 pages

Shrine Landscapes

chapter 2|21 pages

Feast and Dance

chapter 3|10 pages

Great Works

chapter 4|19 pages

Palace Universes

chapter 5|10 pages

Looking and Sounding the Part

chapter |18 pages

Coda: Death by a Thousand Cuts