This essay discusses the formation of an economy in late antiquity with the coming of the Sassanian Empire in 224 CE. Local, imperial, regional, and international trade and the role of the state and traders and their relation with one another are previewed. Based on surviving evidence, one can see that a vibrant bazaar economy had developed in cities, protected by the imperial government and at times through the resettlement of populations from outside of the Iranian plateau and Mesopotamia. These local economies in turn created an imperial network by the Sassanians but acted autonomously. Trade networks were mainly developed based on religious affiliation, and they created connections throughout Asia to control commodities such as silk and other precious goods. Through Sassanian protection (224–651 CE) of trade, their Byzantine rivals were unable to gain an economic foothold in Asia. In the international trade provided by the Silk Road and the sea route, China and India became important centers of production, while the Iranians, such as the Sogdians, Bactrians and Persians, acted as traders and intermediaries in the Eurasian trade. These structures created in late antiquity by the Sassanian Empire in Asia were inherited by the Muslims in the seventh century CE and were continued and expanded.

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