Trade and the Origins of Agriculture in the Eastern Mediterranean


  • Curtis Runnels Boston University
  • Tjeerd H. van Andel Cambridge University



trade, origin of agriculture, neolithic trade


Trade and social stratification appeared more or less simultaneously in different parts of the Eastern Mediterranean prior to the advent of agriculture-based village economies. This formulation places trade at the head of a list of factors that favored the adoption and dispersal of agriculture, and contrasts with previous views that regarded the development of complex societies as the consequence of the chance innovation or evolution of agriculture. The evolution of complex societies was instead the cause of agricultural origins. Trade among Eastern Mediterranean societies provided the incentives for experimentation with domesticates to produce surplus wealth for trade or to support craftsmen who produced commodities for trade.

Author Biography

Curtis Runnels, Boston University

Curtis Runnels is Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Boston University. He received his PhD in 1981 from Indiana University and taught at Stanford University from 1981 to 1987. His main research interests involve prehistoric Greece. He has excavated at Franchthi Cave and Halieis. Since 1979 he has been Associate Director of the Stanford University Archaeological and Environmental Survey of the Southern Argolid. Two books have resulted from this research: Beyond the Acropolis: A Rural Greek Past (Stanford, Stanford University Press 1987, with Tjeerd van Andel), and A Greek Countryside: The Southern Argolid from Prehistory to the Present Day (Stanford, Stanford University Press, in press, with Michael Jameson and Tjeerd van Andel). In 1987 he directed a paleolithic survey of Thessaly and is currently surveying the Berbati-Limmes area in the Peloponnese with members of the Swedish Archaeological Institute.



How to Cite

Runnels, C., & van Andel, T. H. (1988). Trade and the Origins of Agriculture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 1(1), 83–109.




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