Blockchain: Protocol and Institutional Technology as we know it is relatively new in our modern history. But if we take the time to look back thousands of years, we can find a similar Protocol. Even though technological advances were not present, a mode of communication was developed in the Middle-East and has endured for nearly 1000 years.
The basic principles of the Blockchain are:
- Securing information
- Reduction of transaction costs
- Distributed and public registry
The Institutional and Diplomatic Protocols that were discovered by Chris Berg, date back to about 2400 – 1200 B.C., including a Diplomatic exchange dating back to 2340 B.C., between the King of Elba (Northern Syria) and King Hamazi (Unknown Kingdom)
On the Tablets discovered in Maris (Syria) it is related the Diplomatic exchanges between more than 150 Kings of different Provinces, all located in a defined region and extending over a period of 30 years
The principle of the Diplomatic Protocols at that time:
- Allow interaction between disparate groups and different languages
- Reduce ‘communication costs’
- Permanent record of past transactions
- Public and ritual verification of transactions
Since the birth of Mankind, it was necessary to maintain good relations (commercial and political) between neighboring Clans, Kingdoms and Empires. It was therefore necessary to think of something that all chiefs, kings and emperors can apply to authenticate and secure their diplomatic exchanges.
Because since all times, whether it is today, or 4000 years ago, there have always been people who try to undermine the system, and thus cause wars and anarchy.
Before the writing on the Tablet, Messengers were sent, but there were always various problems:
- The messenger was captured and/or executed, by anyone who wanted to harm the powers in place.
- The messenger could not repeat the message identically, and could forget some parts
- The messenger repeated the message, in his own way, adding various elements, which could lead to confusion (because he did not necessarily know the customs in force on the territory where he was to deliver his message)
This means of communication and diplomatic exchange proved to be very costly (between the expenses for the formation of messages, the replacement of messages, and the wars triggered because of messengers who did not know how to repeat the message identically)
It was therefore necessary to establish a Diplomatic Protocol, which made it possible to secure the information, to make it unforgeable, but especially to be able to make it perennial, by engraving them in Clay Tablets. To reduce the risks of conflicts between territories, and to mitigate the bad communication.
This Protocol, is a set of rules, most of which were not written, but known by the powerful of the world:
- Exchange of gifts
- Standardized language (in Akkadian – which lasted long after the end of Sargon’s Akkadian Empire, even if both parties did not speak Akkadian as their first language)
- Ritualized greetings
- Adherence to strict hierarchies of precedence
- Codes of hospitality
- Coded and deferential language
The conclusion of Treaties were also imposed on others Ceremonies and rituals
The strict respect of these rules ensured the good functioning of Diplomacy, and any hindrance, or non respect of the said rules, could lead to wars.
As soon as new members wished to join this group to maintain Diplomatic Relations, the Protocols were adapted, as soon as Egypt started international trade.
For the written Protocol, expressions such as:
- “I am your brother, you are my brother […]” – although neither of them was related to each other
- “Any wish you express I will grant and you, any wish I express, you will grant“.
- Then the exchange was formulated
- And finally a new mention of ‘brothers’, including the one that could be seen on a Tablet: “Jirkab-Damu, King of Elba, is the brother of Zizi, King of Hamazi; Zizi, King of Hamazi, is the brother of Jirkab-Damu, King of Elba“
- And finally, the Signature of ‘Jirkab-Damu‘ as well as the signature of the ‘Scribe‘
The fictitious kinship, provided a form of code in the message, and then developed other forms of kinship, always in code form to ensure the security of the message:
- Hem (for changes in the status of City-States)
This kind of Diplomatic message could seem ineffective, it is this form of Diplomatic Ritual that would make the document, or treaty, official
The exchanges and treaties were then read aloud in public, in the presence of emissaries, and in the presence of the Gods of both parties. These ‘Letters’ and ‘Treaties’ were not secret and their validity was affirmed by a proclamation and a public posting.
Some Tablets found in Maris also mentioned the ‘History of a ledger‘:
- Preamble that lists the names
- Title and genealogy of the King
- Summary of the previous relations
- Details of the Diplomatic Agreement
This made it possible to provide the History of the transactions, without the intervention of a third party, who could modify the past transactions as they wished → One of the principles of the Blockchain
To enforce these protocols written to the letter it was necessary to spend a lot of money, to avoid misinterpretations, or forgetfulness that would irreparably lead to conflicts. The money spent was mainly used to train the Scribes, which is precisely what we find in the ‘Proof-of-Work‘.
Antiquity & present time, as well as Diplomatic Protocol & Blockchain are intimately linked, although more than 4000 years of history separate them
Thank you all!
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