Saturday, October 11, 2014

0270 - Trade or gift?

In Iberian large ditched enclosures one of the main patterns is the presence of exogenous materials that reveal that those sites were integrated in large trade networks. Ivory, cinnabar, variscite, amber, shells, some specific potteries, etc. These raw materials or objects made of them are present in those large enclosures in regions where they do not exist.

The questions are: is this evidence of just trade? Or is it evidence of something else? For instance, of the social importance of gift. It is possible that many of these ditched enclosures were stages where potlatch type ceremonies might have been performed and the exchange of rare exotic objects as gifts might have had a significant social role.

These are paths for research in Iberian (and therefore Portuguese) ditched enclosures. For that, theoretical research should be done on how can we empirically demonstrate the presence of gift procedures in the archaeological record (yes, empiricism depends on theory).

1 comment:

  1. High status stuff, like the people who own it people, behaves in complex way which it is difficult for archaeology to quantify.
    I made my own list of the possible origin of material;
    Made by the owner;
    Stolen/looted and taken as booty;
    Gifted as a present, reward or dowry;
    Won in a game of chance.

    Marriages between elites represent movements of people and their household with aspects of their material wealth.
    Among the higher status individuals, gifts could include people - slaves with skills to process such materials.
    Another issue is the that most material culture is organic and is never detected.