Of middens and markets: the phenomenology of the market place in the Bronze Age and beyond
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/15783
Journal Article (Published version)
First published (peer reviewed)In: Hahn, H. P.; Schmitz, G. (Eds.) Market as place & space of economic exchange. Perspectives from archaeology & anthropology
Oxbow Books, 2018
It is not known when humans started using markets to exchange goods. However, we have concrete evidence of their doing so from at least the Bronze Age. While the existence of market places is often not taken into consideration by researchers due to preconceived conceptions about exchange during the Bronze Age, textual evidence from the Near East and tomb reliefs from Pharaonic Egypt demonstrate their existence during this period. Nevertheless, it is difficult to identify actual market places by archaeological means in these regions. This applies even more to Bronze Age Europe, where researchers have argued that it may be not appropriate to speak of trade, as this implies an economic system in which markets were in use. In this article I would like to discuss the phenomenon of market places by investigating the archaeological remains of potential exchange sites from the Neolithic and Bronze Age and comparing them with later evidence from the Mediterranean, central Europe and Mesoamerica. It will be argued that specific sites (‘middens’) from Late Bronze Age Britain and the Early Iron Age transition in the earlier first millennium BC in southern Britain can be considered to be market places. Certain archaeological features and objects may indicate the existence of market places from a cross-cultural and diachronic perspective and thus provide us with a range of distinct criteria for detecting their physical remains.
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