What Diplomacy in the Ancient near East Can Tell Us about Blockchain Technology

Berg, C 2017. ‘What diplomacy in the ancient near east can tell us about blockchain technology’, Ledger, vol. 2, pp. 55-64.

10 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2017 Last revised: 19 Dec 2017

Date Written: December 12, 2017

Abstract

A blockchain is an institutional technology—a protocol—that allows for economic coordination between agents separated by boundaries of possible mistrust. Blockchains are not the only technology in history to have these characteristics. The paper looks at the role of the diplomatic protocol at the very beginning of human civilisation in the ancient near east. These two protocols—diplomatic and blockchain—have significant similarities. They were created to address to similar economic problems using similar mechanisms: a permanent record of past dealings, public and ritualistic verification of transactions, and game-theoretic mechanisms of reciprocity. The development of the diplomatic protocol allowed for the creation of the first international community and facilitated patterns of peaceful trade and exchange. Some questions about a generalised ‘protocol economics’ are drawn.

Keywords: Blockchain, Institutional Economics, Diplomatic Protocol, Ancient Near East

JEL Classification: D02, D7, D74, F02

Suggested Citation

Berg, Chris, What Diplomacy in the Ancient near East Can Tell Us about Blockchain Technology (December 12, 2017). Berg, C 2017. ‘What diplomacy in the ancient near east can tell us about blockchain technology’, Ledger, vol. 2, pp. 55-64., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3016649 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3016649

Chris Berg (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

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