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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Entrepreneurs in the Ancient World: From Neolithic Fashion Tycoons to Babylon’s 'Silicon Valley' Startup Founders

00:00 49:06
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Entrepreneurship didn’t begin with Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, or Adam Smith. Depending on how one interprets the archeological record, it goes back at least 9,000 years, when Neolithic tribes set up bead-making factories to transform worthless stones into jewelry, trading them for raw materials.
This culture of business spread and grew more sophisticated. Four thousand years ago the first LLCs appeared in Mesopotamia. Entrepreneurs became a respected and important part of life, and a dynamic entrepreneurial culture that worked like Silicon Valley does today. To discuss this 10,000-year story of business is today’s guest, Derek Lidow, author of “The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value.” We delve into the deep history of innovation to deliver essential new insights into how entrepreneurs have created value throughout history and continue to bring about change.
We explore how the archeological record proves entrepreneurship eventually develops in all urban cultures, how some groups of entrepreneurs have been hidden from history (women, slaves, ethnic and religious minorities, the underclass, and immigrants), and how monopolists like J.P. Morgan or Mark Zuckerberg threaten this entrepreneurial spirit, and what can be done about it.
November 15, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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