Reciprocity in Aegean Palatial Societies
Gifts, Debt, and the Foundations of Economic Exchange
Keywords:Aegean, Bronze Age, Mycenaean, reciprocity, Shala Valley
This collection of papers is the third and final installment in a series meant to update the archaeological study of Aegean Bronze Age economies based on current research in economic anthropology and new archaeological and textual data from Minoan and Mycenaean states. The first collection, titled ‘Redistribution in Aegean Palatial Societies’, was published in the American Journal of Archaeology in 2011 (volume 115.2). The second, titled ‘Crafts, Specialists, and Markets in Mycenaean Greece,’ was published in the American Journal of Archaeology in 2013 (volume 117.3). In these first two collections, we argued that studies of ‘redistribution’ in Aegean palatial societies, whether archaeological, textual, or both, fail to capture the totality of economic activity that must have occurred in Late Bronze Age states and largely ignore the social implications of such activity. Rather, in order to explain the regional distribution of artifacts, some form of ‘market’-based exchange must have occurred. In this introduction we suggest that systems of ‘reciprocity’ preceded and underpinned modes of redistribution and market exchange, and also served to integrate Bronze Age social structures.
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