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Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies

Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies

Christopher P. Garraty
Barbara L. Stark
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Archaeological Approaches to Market Exchange in Ancient Societies
    Book Description:

    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   Drawing from historical documents and archaeological records from Mesoamerica, the U.S. Southwest, East Africa, and the Andes, this volume reveals the complexity of ancient marketplace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.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-029-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-xx)
    Christopher P. Garraty and Barbara L. Stark

    • Chapter One Investigating Market Exchange in Ancient Societies: A Theoretical Review
      (pp. 3-32)
      Christopher P. Garraty

      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 premodern societies. It includes three sections: (1) two introductory chapters that review ideas and methods, beginning with this chapter; (2) six case studies that address diachronic issues of how market systems develop, change, or collapse; and (3) three chapters with a broader, more comparative scope, including the final overview chapter by Kenneth Hirth.

      The intent of this volume is to encourage a comparative, cross-cultural dialogue and generate new approaches for studying premodern market exchange. As...

    • Chapter Two Detecting Marketplace Exchange in Archaeology: A Methodological Review
      (pp. 33-58)
      Barbara L. Stark and Christopher P. Garraty

      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 (Hirth, Chapter 11). Second, there is a considerable challenge from equifinality of patterns, particularly for marketplace exchange compared with centralized redistribution (Timothy Earle’s mobilizing redistribution [1977:215]; see also Blanton and Fargher, Chapter 10). Third, we lack...


    • Chapter Three The Rise and Demise of Marketplace Exchange among the Prehistoric Hohokam of Arizona
      (pp. 61-84)
      David R. Abbott

      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 structured institution. Southwest archaeologists have long suspected that incipient markets were associated with ritual ballgames among the ancient Hohokam of central and southern Arizona (e.g., Bayman 2002; Doyel 1979, 1985; Haury 1976:78; Heidke 2000; Wilcox 1991; Wilcox and Sternberg 1983). During the middle Sedentary period...

    • Chapter Four A Multiscalar Perspective on Market Exchange in the Classic-Period Valley of Oaxaca
      (pp. 85-98)
      Gary M. Feinman and Linda M. Nicholas

      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 by researchers in several fields that all economies (despite significant diversity) are culturally constituted and embedded in larger societal contexts, albeit in different ways (e.g., Alexander and Alexander 1991; Barber 1995; Block 2003; Dequech 2003; Gemici 2008; Granovetter 1985; Krippner 2001). As a consequence, the oft-supposed complete break...

    • Chapter Five Origins and Development of Mesoamerican Marketplaces: Evidence from South-Central Veracruz, Mexico
      (pp. 99-126)
      Barbara L. Stark and Alanna Ossa

      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 period, for which a combination of ethnohistoric and archaeological data documents a vigorous periodic market system in the central highlands of Mexico (Berdan 1977, 1985; Blanton 1996a; Garraty 2006; Hassig 1985:67–84; Minc 2006; Nichols et al. 2002). Recently, archaeological examination...

    • Chapter Six The Rise and Fall of Market Exchange: A Dynamic Approach to Ancient Maya Economy
      (pp. 127-140)
      Geoffrey E. Braswell

      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 reversible and irreversible change. The Dynamic Model of archaic states, proposed by Joyce Marcus (1992, 1993, 1998), is an example of a model that is more thermodynamic than evolutionary in the sense that change from one...

    • Chapter Seven Housing the Market: Swahili Merchants and Regional Marketing on the East African Coast, Seventh to Sixteenth Centuries AD
      (pp. 141-160)
      Jeffrey B. Fleisher

      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 merchants participated in a vast market network that stretched thousands of miles along the coastal corridor, 100 miles to the interior, and thousands of miles across the Indian Ocean to ports along the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the western coast of...

    • Chapter Eight Regional and Local Market Systems in Aztec-Period Morelos
      (pp. 161-182)
      Michael E. Smith

      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 levels with distinct spatial expressions. The smaller level, which I call the local system, usually consists of a weekly market that serves a town and its hinterland. In China, G. William Skinner (1964) has called this the “standard marketing community,” and in many...


    • Chapter Nine Labor Taxes, Market Systems, and Urbanization in the Prehispanic Andes: A Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 185-206)
      Charles Stanish

      The Inca empire represents one of the greatest political achievements in human history. By the end of the sixteenth century AD, it stretched over 1 million km² and maintained 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 plains, and forests. Their road system stretched over thousands of kilometers, and their engineers built bridges, fortresses, storehouses, and even entire towns for strategic purposes. Their priests climbed mountain peaks for elaborate rituals, feats unimaginable a...

    • Chapter Ten Evaluating Causal Factors in Market Development in Premodern States: A Comparative Study, with Critical Comments on the History of Ideas about Markets
      (pp. 207-226)
      Richard E. Blanton and Lane F. Fargher

      Market exchange has often not been considered an important factor in understanding 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 has led many researchers to shy away from the study of premodern markets, and we then point to reasons why this is a good time to expand our efforts in this relatively unexplored direction. Second,...

    • Chapter Eleven Finding the Mark in the Marketplace: The Organization, Development, and Archaeological Identification of Market Systems
      (pp. 227-248)
      Kenneth G. Hirth

      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 a variety of alternative products as needs required (Garraty, Chapter 1). The market-place also fostered craft production and helped support both full- and part-time craft specialists. Finally, marketplaces were a means through which large urban populations were provisioned and...

  10. References Cited
    (pp. 249-312)
  11. Index
    (pp. 313-322)