Modeling the Roles of Craft Production in Ancient Political Economies
Ongoing debates over the significance of specialized production in ancient political economies frequently hinge on questions of whether elites or commoners controlled craft manufactures and whether the material or ideological import of these production processes was more significant in deciding power contests. Though long recognized, such queries were traditionally answered in relatively straightforward economic terms. Recently, these time-honored approaches have been questioned. An ever increasing number of authors are promoting varied takes on the causal linkages between political forms and processes, on the one hand, and patterns of production, distribution, and use of craft goods, on the other. The literature generated by these discussions is extensive, vibrant, and often confusing. Rather than trying to synthesize all reports and essays dealing with specialized manufacture, this paper highlights general interpretive trends that underlie and structure current debates. The concluding section offers suggestions for how studies of relations among crafts, power, and social heterogeneity might be pursued profitably in the future.
Schortman, E.M. & Urban, P.A. Journal of Archaeological Research (2004) 12: 185. doi:10.1023/B:JARE.0000023712.34302.49
Journal of Archaeological Research