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Shepherds, Merchants, and Credit: Some Observations on Lending Practices in Ur III Mesopotamia

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The numerous surviving loan documents from the Ur III period illustrate the vital role that credit played in the early Mesopotamian economy. The availability of credit was critical at every level of society. In this article, the form and function of credit in the Ur III period are described, along with lending practices and the activities of individual creditors. Despite the overwhelming scale of the institutional economies, there was significant room for non-institutional households to pursue economic gains through money-lending. This entrepreneurial activity took place in an economy that was familiar with a sophisticated range of possible credit transactions. Les nombreux documents de prêt qui survivent de l'époque de la Troisième Dynastie d'Ur illustrent le rôle essentiel que le crédit joue dans l'économie mésopotamienne archaïque. À chaque niveau de la société disposer de crédit était d'une importance essentielle. Cette contribution décrit les forme et fonction du crédit à la période d'Ur III, les pratiques de prêt et les activités des créanciers. En dépit de la grande taille des économies institutionnelles, il existait un secteur important où des maisons non-institutionelles pouvaient faire des gains en prêtant à intérêt. Cette activité d'entrepreneur s'exerçait dans une économie qui possédait une gamme sophistiquée de transactions de crédit.


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