Whether the Bronze Age Aegean economies can be described as “redistributive” depends on how one defines the term. The concept of redistribution itself has undergone several decades of critical archaeological analysis, much of it stemming from my early work in Polynesia. I consider here how Polanyi’s ideas about redistributive economies have been expanded since the 1970s. My review complements the article in this Forum by Nakassis et al. and the contribution by Halstead, who discusses why and how the concept of redistribution still matters in studies of the Minoans and Mycenaeans. To some degree, we all agree: chiefs, and later kings, who sought power in archaic societies did so through many highly variable, contingent, and changing means, all designed to support political-economic strategies based on multiple systems of finance. The Bronze Age Aegean societies provide excellent examples of this process, as demonstrated by the contributors to this Forum.
Redistribution in Aegean Palatial Societies. Redistribution and the Political Economy: The Evolution of an Idea
By Timothy Earle
American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 115, No. 2 (April 2011), pp. 237–244
© 2011 Archaeological Institute of America