Reenvisioning Ancient Economies: Beyond Typological Constructs
Gary M. Feinman American Journal of Archaeology 117.3 (2013): 453–459 (Online Forum - Crafts, Specialists, and Markets in Mycenaean Greece)
To date, most scholarly perspectives on ancient economies have been mischaracterized in part through a reliance on dichotomous frameworks (e.g., primitivist/modern, embedded/free) that draw false qualitative distinctions between past and more contemporary economic systems. This discussion challenges the metrics used in such frames and therefore the antimarket presumption prevalent in extant models of economic practices associated with ancient states. Shifting views of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican economies are highlighted in part to illustrate how past theoretical frames helped deflect mounting evidence for markets drawn from archaeological and textual research. Implications for similar reenvisioning of the ancient economies of Bronze Age Greece are proposed, including a potentially greater role for marketplace exchanges and less direct palatial control over all facets of exchange and production.