Session: #260

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Deconstruction of Prehistoric Economy: Value, Barter and Interpretation of Non-Monetary Finds in Archaeology
Archaic non-monetary systems and barter networks were resilient and successful form of economic interactions for millennia. Since the Paleolithic, Europe developed a system of value that came to play a unique role in world history. The existence of pre-monetary economy shows to what extent prehistoric institutions, and social relations evolved and actively transformed Europe, providing firm foundations for monetary systems in later times. Barter was at once a cornerstone of modern economic theory and an ancient subject of debate about political justice, from Plato and Aristotle onwards. As an idea 'barter' is part of the history of economics and archaeology, and the assumption that it was the forerunner of monetary exchange is crucial in the way it is normally conceptualised. The requirement of immediate satisfaction of demand is paramount in barter systems. This is one of the explanations of the rejection of monetisation in various prehistoric populations.

This session focusses on all aspects of prehistoric economy, excluding coinage. We welcome interdisciplinary cooperation of archaeologists, economists, statisticians, anthropologists and theorists, who together can focus on fundamental questions, which transcend national boundaries, bringing closer innovative ‘out-of-the-box’ understanding the economic foundations of prehistoric world. Session invites a broad range of theme-orientated contributions focussing on, e.g. creation of economic value, mathematic foundations of metric systems, theory of barter exchange, grain economy and surplus creation, trade related mobility studies, and interpretation of non-monetary finds. We particularly invite innovative contributions focusing on circulation of archaic ‘proto-currencies’, ancient monopolies, maritime trade and structure of credit transactions, economic aspects of slavery and human trade in the past.
Prehistoric Economy, Barter Networks, Non-monetary Systems, Interdisciplinary Cooperation, Innovation
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Main organiser:
Peter Tóth (Czech Republic) 1
Dalia Pokutta (Sweden) 2
Tomasz Gralak (Poland) 3
Viacheslav Kuleshov (Sweden) 4
1. Department of Archaeology, Masaryk University
2. Department of Archaeology, Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University
3. Institute of Archaeology, University of Wroclaw
4. Department of Archaeology, Stockholm Numismatic Institute, Stockholm University