We study the causal relationship between geographic connectedness and development using one of the earliest massive trade expansions: the first systematic crossing of open seas in the Mediterranean during the time of the Phoenicians. We construct a geography-based measure of connectedness along the shores of the sea. We relate connectedness to economic activity, which we measure using the presence of archaeological sites. We find an association between better-connected locations and archaeological sites during the Iron Age, at a time when sailors began to cross open water routinely on a large scale. We corroborate these findings at the world level.

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Author notes

We thank Juan Pradera for excellent research assistance, Tom Elliott for help with and advice on the Pleiades database, and Rohini Pande, the editor, four referees, David Abulafia, Neeraj Baruah, Tim Besley, Andrew Bevan, Francesco Caselli, Jeremiah Dittmar, Hannah Friedman, Avner Greif, Vasiliki Kassianidou, Damian Kozbur, Carl Knappett, Jeffrey Lin, Andrea Matranga, Guy Michaels, Dennis Novy, Luigi Pascali, Dominic Rath bone, Tanner Regan, Corinna Riva, Susan Sherratt, Pedro CL Souza, Peter Temin, John van Reenen, Ruth Whitehouse, David Yanagizawa-Drott, and participants at various seminars and conferences for their helpful comments and suggestions. This research has been supported by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/M010341/1) to the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE.

A supplemental appendix is available online at https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00902.

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