By Rudi Matthee
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Additional info for Persia in crisis : Safavid decline and the fall of Isfahan
8 Persia in Crisis This fragmentation caused—and was exacerbated by—a low velocity of money and limited monetization. Parts of the country and some aspects of the economy were fully monetized. Examples are the sericulture in the Caspian provinces and the goat wool trade of Kirman. 28 In 1618 English merchants called ready money the “principall want of this Countrey,” attributing its scarcity to the state of war with the Ottomans. 30 The limits of monetary circulation are reflected in the use of copper for most small and local transactions.
15 Much of the country’s agricultural resource base was located in fertile Azerbaijan and the silk-producing Caspian provinces. All these factors made northern Iran a natural focus of Safavid attention and concern. The southern littoral, by contrast, was alien territory for the Safavids. Its weather, swelteringly hot and humid for most of the year, must have been repellent to warriors used to the bracing climate of the high plateau. Most of its land was barren and unproductive. 17 Aside from Fars, no part of the south ever elicited any special interest from the royal court other than for the revenue it produced.
But the volume of long-distance trade as a proportion of all exchange was much smaller than the eye-catching caravan trade suggests. By highlighting the caravan network, making it look like the backbone of a national economy, the writings of contemporary travelers and maritime company agents obscure the fragmentation of commercial life. Caravan travel did connect urban centers and create links between Iran and the outside world. But it was slow and it was relatively costly. 25 At times of heavy snow or rainfall much more time was needed, or roads might be blocked altogether.