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Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies

Edited by Christopher P. Garraty and Barbara L. Stark

Publication Year: 2010

"These significant contributions to economic anthropology should encourage comparative cross-cultural diologues and foster new approaches to the study of premodern market exchange... The Garraty & Stark volume is a giant step forward in understanding market systems, market places, and sociocultural and religious parameters that impinge upon the economic structure of preindustrial societies."—Charles C. Kolb, The Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Ancient market activities are dynamic in the economies of most ancient states, yet they have received little research from the archaeological community. Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies is the first book to address the development, change, and organizational complexity of ancient markets from a comparative archaeological perspective. Drawing from historical documents and archaeological records from Mesoamerica, the U.S. Southwest, East Africa, and the Andes, this volume reveals the complexity of ancient marketplace development and economic behavior both in hierarchical and non-hierarchical societies. Highlighting four principal themes-the defining characteristics of market exchange; the recognition of market exchange archaeologically; the relationship among market, political, and other social institutions; and the conditions in which market systems develop and change-the book contains a strong methodological and theoretical focus on market exchange. Diverse contributions from noted scholars show the history of market exchange and other activities to be more dynamic than scholars previously appreciated. Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies will be of interest to archaeologists, anthropologists, material-culture theorists, economists, and historians.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiii

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pp. xv-xviii

As Marx and Engels were astutely aware, the expansion and consolidation of market systems coupled with the disintegration of long-standing trade barriers is the fundamental defining process of global history over the past 500 years. As they noted, the last several centuries of market development have been a central impetus for advances in technology, global population movement...

Section One: Theoretical and Methodological Overviews

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1: Investigating Market Exchange in Ancient Societies: A Theoretical Review

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pp. 3-32

This volume addresses the ways archaeologists can investigate market exchange and how it developed (or not), declined, and changed in selected times and places in pre-modern societies. It includes three sections: (1) two introductory chapters that review ideas and methods, beginning with this chapter; (2) six case studies that address dia-chronic issues of how market systems develop, change, or collapse; and (3) three chap-...

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2: Detecting Marketplace Exchange in Archaeology: A Methodological Review

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pp. 33-58

Methods appropriate to archaeological studies are so crucial to research progress that we devote this review essay to the subject (see also Hirth 1998). Several factors have conspired to slow development of archaeological methods and deflect archaeologists’ attention from the subject. First, it is a difficult endeavor for which the most compelling approaches place a high demand on the amount and structure of data ...

Section Two: Case Studies

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3: The Rise and Demise of Marketplace Exchange among the Prehistoric Hohokam of Arizona

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pp. 61-83

Fixed periodic marketplaces in pre-state societies are well documented on several continents (e.g., Bohannan and Dalton, eds. 1962; Forman and Riegelhaupt 1970; Wanmali 1981). It is not surprising, therefore, that marketplace barter was probably extant in the American Southwest during prehistoric times, where barter was organized horizontally without oversight or involvement of some overarching, vertically ...

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4: A Multiscalar Perspective on Market Exchange in the Classic-Period Valley of Oaxaca

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pp. 85-98

Until recently, the role, significance, and diversity of preindustrial markets (and perhaps issues surrounding markets more generally) have been insufficiently theorized and investigated by archaeologists and scholars in cognate disciplines (Minc 2006:82). Of late, however, conceptual perspectives have begun to shift (see Block 1994; Lie 1997; Plattner 1989a:4) with the growing realization...

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5: Origins and Development of Mesoamerican Marketplaces: Evidence from South-Central Veracruz, Mexico

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pp. 99-126

Archaeological evaluation of long-term market activity in Mesoamerica derives primarily from investigations in the Valley of Oaxaca, located in the southern highlands of Mexico (Blanton 1983; Blanton et al. 1982:23–25, 55–61, 65–68, 207–208; Kowalewski et al. 1989:294; Feinman and Nicholas, Chapter 4). Apart from the Valley of Oaxaca, market-oriented studies typically concentrate on the Postclassic ...

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6: The Rise and Fall of Market Exchange: A Dynamic Approach to Ancient Maya Economy

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pp. 127-140

Archaeology is the study of change. The most common metaphor for change that is used to describe social process is evolution. Too often, the specific metaphor of speciation is employed. But speciation is an irreversible process; once a significant change in organization or form has occurred, a return to the previous state is virtually impossible. Another potential metaphor, drawn from thermodynamics, allows for both ...

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7: Housing the Market: Swahili Merchants and Regional Marketing on the East African Coast, Seventh to Sixteenth Centuries AD

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pp. 141-159

Ancient Swahili towns on the eastern African coast are best known for their dedication to long-distance exchange within the Indian Ocean trade system. Middlemen traders in these towns are commonly cast as savvy, entrepreneurial brokers, negotiating trade between hinterland areas and overseas merchants as well as overseeing emerging cosmopolitan city-states. Often implied but rarely demonstrated archaeologically, these ...

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8: Regional and Local Market Systems in Aztec-Period Morelos

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pp. 161-182

Ancient market systems are regional in scope. Whether they take the form of isolated solar market systems or complex interlocking systems (C. Smith 1974, 1976a), market systems integrate regions economically. Ethnographers and historians have found that large regional peasant market systems—the kind Carol Smith described as complex interlocking marketing systems—are typically composed of two hierarchical ...

Section Three: Comparative Contributions

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9: Labor Taxes, Market Systems, and Urbanization in the Prehispanic Andes: A Comparative Perspective

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pp. 185-206

The Inca empire represents one of the greatest political achievements in human his-tory. By the end of the sixteenth century AD, it stretched over 1 million km2 and main-tained at least nominal control over several million people (Figure 9.1). These subject populations were members of dozens of ethnic groups organized into a complex and heterogeneous state. The Inca established provinces in deserts, mountains, high altitude ...

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10: Evaluating Causal Factors in Market Development in Premodern States: A Comparative Study, with Critical Comments on the History of Ideas about Markets

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pp. 207-226

Market exchange has often not been considered an important factor in understand-ing the social evolution of premodern complex societies (e.g., Sanders, Parsons, and Santley 1979:405), yet we and others in this volume propose that investigating market exchange is a productive path to follow. We contribute to the goal of motivating more attention to the subject in two ways. First, we summarize the historical context that ...

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11: Finding the Mark in the Marketplace: The Organization, Development, and Archaeological Identification of Market Systems

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pp. 227-247

The emergence of the marketplace as a primary location for economic interaction was one of the great institutions and developments of the ancient world. As an institution, the marketplace increased the number, rapidity, and efficiency of household- and institutional-level economic exchanges. It provided elites with a source of prestige through marketplace sponsorship and a means to mobilize and convert surpluses into ...

References Cited

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pp. 249-311


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pp. 313-322

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320296
E-ISBN-10: 1607320290
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607320289
Print-ISBN-10: 1607320282

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 16 line drawings, 18 maps, 8 tablets
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 650439309
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civilization, Ancient.
  • Commerce, Prehistoric.
  • Economics, Prehistoric.
  • Indians -- Commerce.
  • Markets -- History.
  • Economic anthropology.
  • Social archaeology.
  • Exchange -- History.
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