1) By 2500 BCE, the merchant-class of long-distance traders was growing
very, very wealthy from the growth of cities, especially around the
2) Some of these traders were Amorites-- semitic desert nomads like the
later Bedouin (but without camels yet). But many other peoples in the
region were also successful, including various Indo-Europeans.
3) The sea-traders probably did best, with the cities of the Asian coast
probably having a headstart (Troy, Ugarit, Byblos, Tyre).
4) The biggest traders all got to know each other, doing major direct
deals for especially valuable commodities (eg: amber, gold, lapis
lazuli, carnelian, andesite, obsidian, ivory, furs, coriander,
frankincense, myrrh, and fine crafts like weapons, seals, carved
ivories, and fine textiles).
5) They had contradictory urges to brag to each other, but still to
conceal their success from thieves and tax-collectors.
6) One sea-trader built a fancy home on balmy Crete (or a nearby island)
and others learned of it and saw the advantages (tax avoidance, priest
avoidance, private ostentation, inaccessible to thieves) and joined him.
7) They made their own groundrules about what was allowed-- and armed
robbery was definitely taboo. (This might have been sort of chivalrous,
like King Arthur 3000 years later.)
8) A playboy culture emerged there as a way of showing off (but not so
excessive that it diminished their trade-effectiveness).
9) Like all salesmen, they wanted to build rapport with their clients by
showing them a good time-- but you couldn't impress them much in their
own home city, in 2000 BCE!
10) So gradually, more and more of these clients were offered visits to
the playboy islands, first as a free rapport-builder, but later on (as
word got around) as a paid vacation-resort.
11) To attract paying clients, some eventually built palatial hotels
featuring topless showgirls, circus acts, gambling, etc.
12) Opium poppies were available, if you were inclined that way.
13) Prostitutes were surely available, probably of both sexes.
14) The art was relentlessly upbeat, to encourage a party atmosphere.
15) Because many nationalities mingled there, war and politics were
carefully avoided as themes.
16) As soon as it became a paid resort, the owners faded back into the
woodwork, concealing all signs of even what nationality they were-- they
17) What few records they kept, they kept in code, using symbols
borrowed from various sources. (Criminal argots are very common.)
18) When Crete got too 'hot' (in some still-unknown way) some relocated
to the Greek mainland, among the Myceneans. (The Homeric epics recount
their later exploits.)
19) Their playboy religious cult persisted for 1000 years, in the
Eleusinian Mysteries (conventionally traced to the early Myceneans).
20) Others got together and hired thousands of mercenaries to plunder
the coastal cities: the 'People of the Sea' who have never been
21) Others settled on the coast and resumed the maritime trade routes,
calling themselves Phoenicians.
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