Drawing on modern economic theory, this book provides new insights into the economic development of ancient economies and the sustainability of their development. The book pays particular attention to the economics of hunting and gathering societies and their diversity. New ideas are presented about theories of the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, including Childe’s theory of this development. The Agricultural Revolution was a major contributor to economic development because in most cases, it generated an economic surplus. However, as shown, income inequality was a necessary condition for the use of this surplus to promote economic development and to avoid the Malthusian population trap. This inequality was evident in the successful operation of the palatial economies of the Minoan and Mycenaean states. Nevertheless, some post-agricultural economies proved to be unsustainable, and they "mysteriously" disappeared. This happened in the case of the Silesian Únětice culture and population. Economic and ecological reasons for this are suggested. The nature of economic development altered with increased trade, the use of barter, and subsequently the supply of money to facilitate this trade. These developments are examined in the context of the palatial economies of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Elsewhere, multinational business made a substantial contribution to the economic growth of Phoenicia, where international trade was not determined by its natural resource endowments. Thus, Phoenician economic exchange and development provides a different set of insights. The book makes an important contribution to the understanding of the evolution of human societies and will therefore be of interdisciplinary interest including economists (especially economic historians), anthropologists and sociologists, some archaeologists, and historians.

1. An Overview of Our Perspectives on the Economic Development and Sustainability of Ancient Societies  PART I: ECONOMICS OF HUNTING AND GATHERING SOCIETIES  2.Stages of Early Economic Development: Economic Evolution and the Diversity of Societies  3. Traditional Economies of Australian Aborigines – Their Sustainability, Desirability and Sahlins’ Hypothesis  4. The Sustainability and Economic Development Options of Foragers: New Economic Analysis  5. The Lengthy Endurance of Hunting and Gathering Economies  PART II: THE AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION: THE TRANSITION TO AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AGRICULTURE  6. A Reconsideration of Theories about the Commencement of Agriculture and New Suggestions  7. Alternatives to and a Critique of Economic Optimization Theories as a Determinant of the Transition to Agriculture  8. Contemporary Thought and Childe’s Theory of Economic Development and the Agricultural Revolution  PART III: EVOLUTION OF EARLY ECONOMIES AFTER THE COMMENCEMENT OF AGRICULTURE  9. Analysis of Why Some Agrarian Societies Avoided the Malthusian Trap and Developed  10. Economic and Ecological Reasons Why the Silesian Únĕtice Population Disappeared  11. The Palatial Economic Development of Minoan and Mycenaean States  12. Barter and the Origins of Money: Insights from the Ancient Palatial Economies of Mesopotamia and Egypt  13. Phoenicia: Its Economic Development Before its use of Coinage