The Greeks were the pre-eminent merchants of the Mediterranean world. Even in the Bronze Age their commercial contacts reached to Egypt and the Near East. During the height of Greek civilization their city-states dominated the economy of the entire Mediterranean region. The Greeks were also energetic colonizers. From as early as the 8th century BCE Greek emigrants founded new settlements in Italy, North Africa, southern France, Asia Minor, and the Black Sea region. Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE) conquered the east as far as India. His successors brought about an unparalleled expansion of Greek civilization in which Greek language and culture became the koine, the most common and acceptable way of life.