Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Vol 5, No 2 (1992)

Systems of Exchange and Organization of Production in Neolithic Greece

Catherine Perles
Issued Date: 21 Mar 2007

Abstract


Neolithic exchange systems are currently approached either from the standpoint of production and distribution of a specific trade item, or by an overview of all goods known to circulate in a given archaeological context. I argue that neither approach is sufficient,and that one must ultimately analyse and compare systematically all parameters of the production, site consumption and regional distribution of each category of goods. In the context of the Greek Neolithic, this clearly reveals the co-existence of three distinct systems of production and distribution, which can be interpreted in different socioeconomic terms. The first system is mainly economic in purpose and concerns utilitarian goods, widely distributed geographically and socially. The second corresponds mainly to inter-group alliances and involves goods of high stylistic visibility and social function; it has a much more restricted geographic scope. The third is the well known trade in 'prestige goods', which is wide ranging but limited in terms of social access. The results shed new light on the socio-economic organization of Greek Neolithic societies, but also on their regional contrasts, since it can be shown that each main region participates deferentially in each production and exchange system.

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DOI: 10.1558/jmea.v5i2.115

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