Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


3 April 2013

Late Bronze Age long-distance maritime trade as cultural agency. The case for non-palatial contexts

Andrea Vianello Skyllis 11:2 (2011): 40-48.


This paper discusses Late Bronze Age maritime trade in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to assess the effectiveness of recent theoretical models and proposing some updated perspectives. In particular the effective role of elites in the exchanges is assessed. It is concluded that the exchanges were motivated by profit and were therefore distinct from the imperialistic and military schemes of the great kings of the Near East and the Egyptian pharaoh. Traders avoided for the most part direct contacts with major eastern kingdoms which seemed to have preferred the established gift exchange system. Trade was “non-palatial” or “private” in its nature, but these definitions do not preclude the involvement of members of palatial administrations, especially in smaller kingdoms such as Ugarit. Evidence from the western Mediterranean, as far as Sardinia, the Aegean and the Levant is assessed to provide a balanced perspective.


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