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Bronze Age Ceramic Economy: The Benta Valley, Hungary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2017

Abstract

We describe the Bronze Age ceramic economy of the Benta Valley in Hungary. In the Bronze Age, long-distance trade in metals, metal objects, and other specialty items became central to expansive prestige goods exchange through Europe. Was that exchange in wealth, however, linked to broader developments of an integrated market system? The beginnings of market systems in prehistory are poorly understood. We suggest a means to investigate marketing by studying the changing ceramic economy of a region, rather than at a single site. Analysis of the ceramic inventory collected as part of the Benta Valley Project strongly suggests that, although ceramic production was quite sophisticated and probably specialized, exchange was highly localized (mostly within 10 km) and conducted through personalized community networks. Our ceramic study used three progressively finer-scaled analyses: inventorying ceramic forms and decoration to evaluate consumption patterns, petrographic analysis to describe manufacturing sequences, and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) to describe exchange. We conclude that, based on present evidence, market systems had not developed in Hungary during the Bronze Age.

Nous décrivons ici l'économie des céramiques de l'Âge du Bronze dans la vallée de Benta en Hongrie. Pendant l'Âge du Bronze, le commerce à longue distance des métaux, objets en métal et autres objets exceptionnels devenait crucial pour l'échange expansif de produits de prestige à travers l'Europe. Reste à savoir toutefois si cet échange de richesses était lié à des développements plus amples d'un système de marché intégré. Les débuts des systèmes de marché préhistoriques restent largement méconnus. Nous proposons un moyen d'étudier la commercialisation en examinant les changements de l'économie des céramiques d'une région plutôt que d'un seul site. L'analyse de l'inventaire céramique recueilli dans le cadre du projet de la vallée de Benta semble manifestement indiquer que, bien que la production céramique était plutôt raffinée et probablement spécialisée, l'échange restait très localisé (essentiellement dans un rayon de 10 km) et s'effectuait par des réseaux communaux personnalisés. Notre étude de la céramique appliquait trois types d'analyses toujours plus fines : l'inventorisation des formes et décors céramiques afin d'évaluer les modèles de consommation; des analyses pétrographiques afin de décrire les séquences de fabrication, et l'analyse instrumentale par activation neutronique (INAA) pour représenter les échanges. Nous sommes arrivés à la conclusion que, d'après les preuves actuelles, aucun système de marché ne s'était encore développé en Hongrie durant l'Âge du Bronze. Translation by Isabelle Gerges.

Zusammenfassung

Zusammenfassung

In diesem Beitrag wird die bronzezeitliche Keramik-Ökonomie des Benta-Tales in Ungarn beschrieben. In der Bronzezeit wurde der Fernhandel von Metallen, Metallobjekten und anderen speziellen Objekten ein zentraler Bestandteil des expansiven Austauschs von Prestigegütern in Europa. Doch war dieser Austausch von Reichtümern mit weiteren Entwicklungen eines integrierten Marktsystems verbunden? Die Anfänge von Marktsystemen in der Vorgeschichte werden bislang nur ansatzweise verstanden. Es wird hier vorgeschlagen, das Marktwesen eher anhand der sich verändernden Keramik-Ökonomie einer Region, als eines einzelnen Fundplatzes zu untersuchen. Die Analyse des Keramikinventars, das als Teil des Bentatal-Projektes gesammelt wurde, weist deutlich darauf hin, dass – obwohl die Keramikproduktion verhältnismäßig entwickelt gewesen ist und wahrscheinlich spezialisiert erfolgte – der Austausch stark lokal (meist innerhalb eines Radius von 10 km) ausgerichtet war und über personalisierte Kommunikationsnetzwerke abgewikkelt wurde. Unsere Keramikstudie nutzte drei zunehmend feiner skalierte Analysen: die Inventarisierung der Keramikform und -dekoration, um Verbrauchsmerkmale einzuschätzen, petrographische Analysen, um Herstellungssequenzen zu beschreiben, sowie Instrumentale Neutronenaktivationsanalysen (INAA), um den Austausch darzustellen. Wir folgern auf der Basis der aktuellen Ergebnisse, dass Marktsysteme während der Bronzezeit nicht entwickelt waren. Translation by Heiner Schwarzberg.

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Copyright © 2011 Maney Publishing 

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