From reciprocity to redistribution: modelling the exchange of livestock in neolithic Greece


en Anthropozoologica 16 - Pages 19-30

Published on 01 October 1992

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animals and their products in trade and exchange. Proceedings of the 3rd international meeting of HASRI, Oxford, 8-11 November 1990

Archaeozoologists face severe problems in the recognition of reciprocal exchanges of livestock over short-distances, such as may have prevailed among earlier farming communities. This paper adopts an indirect approach to modelling reciprocal exchanges of livestock between early farmers in Greece. Agricultural production was organised at a household level but, given the limitations of the household labour force, demographically viable populations of livestock can have existed only at a village or regional level. Livestock must, therefore, have been regular objects of exchange between households. This phenomenon is interpreted in the light of the highly flexible role of livestock in indirect storage among recent farmers in Greece. In conclusion, the transformation of neolithic inter-household reciprocity in livestock into the centralised redistribution of the Late Bronze Age palaces, with its particular emphasis on sheep raising and wool production, is briefly considered.


Exchange, Livestock, Storage, Greece, Neolithic.

Download full article in PDF format Order a reprint