Reciprocity in Aegean Palatial Societies

Gifts, Debt, and the Foundations of Economic Exchange


  • Dimitri Nakassis University of Colorado
  • Michael L. Galaty Mississippi State University
  • William A. Parkinson Field Museum of Natural History



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.

Author Biographies

Dimitri Nakassis, University of Colorado

Dimitri Nakassis is Professor in the Department of Classics, University of Colorado Boulder and Co-Director of the Western Argolid Regional Project and Digital Nestor. He is interested in Greek prehistory, especially Mycenaean states, Aegean scripts, and archaeological survey.

Michael L. Galaty, Mississippi State University

Michael L. Galaty is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, Mississippi State University and CoDirector of the Projekti Arkeologjikë i Shkodrës and the Diros Project. He is interested in the archaeology of complex societies and state formation, archaeological survey, and the scientific analysis of artifacts.

William A. Parkinson, Field Museum of Natural History

William A. Parkinson is Associate Curator of Eurasian Anthropology in the Field Museum of Natural History, and Co-Director of the Körös Regional Archaeological Project and the Diros Project. He is interested in the social dynamics of early village societies and the emergence of early states.



How to Cite

Nakassis, D., Galaty, M. L., & Parkinson, W. A. (2016). Reciprocity in Aegean Palatial Societies: Gifts, Debt, and the Foundations of Economic Exchange. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 29(1), 61–132.



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