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Redistribution in Aegean Palatial Societies. Before the Palaces: Redistribution and Chiefdoms in Mainland Greece

Feasting assemblage from Tsoungiza Pit 56.
Feasting assemblage from Tsoungiza Pit 56.

This article examines redistribution as formulated by scholars of the later Mycenaean palatial economies to ascertain its applicability to the Early Bronze Age (EBA) mainland. Lacking textual sources in the EBA, the emphasis is on archaeological correlates of redistribution as both a mode of transaction and as an institution. Three areas are examined: mobilization of goods as suggested through the evidence for staple vs. wealth finance, scale and control of production on the basis of evidence for household production vs. craft specialization, and centralized control of economic and political transactions using evidence for administration and feasting. While the data leave much to be desired in terms of suitability and completeness, only a limited number of the transaction types and institutional forms of redistribution as posited for the Mycenaean palatial economies are apparent in the EBA mainland. Thus, the political economies of the Mycenaean palaces may well represent transformations not just of scale but also of forms from the political economies of the EBA chiefdoms.

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