Primitive economics was based solely/only on theories because there were no economists on that time. All theories had just been supported by philosophers and amateurs.
In the past, there were no terms, such as “market mechanisms”, “cast flow”, “supply-demand” and so forth/on.
The first method, used like a fundamental method to investigate economy, is “trial and error”.
After all, nowadays we have banks and financial institutions and economic experts instead of previous amateurs.