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Trade before Civilization explores the role that long-distance exchange played in the establishment and/or maintenance of social complexity, and its role in the transformation of societies from egalitarian to non-egalitarian. Bringing together research by an international and methodologically diverse team of scholars, it analyses the relationship between long-distance trade and the rise of inequality. The volume illustrates how elites used exotic prestige goods to enhance and maintain their elevated social positions in society. Global in scope, it offers case studies of early societies and sites in Europe, Asia, Oceania, North America, and Mesoamerica. Deploying a range of inter-disciplinary and cutting-edge theoretical approaches from a cross-cultural framework, the volume offers new insights and enhances our understanding of socio-political evolution. It will appeal to archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, conflict theorists, and ethnohistorians, as well as economists seeking to understand the nexus between imported luxury items and cultural evolution.