Market as Place, and Spaces of Economic Exchange. Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives

Keynote November 26th, EG 411, 18:15
Conference November 27th-28th, Eisenhower-Room 1.314

Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany


When a thing changes hands, it becomes an item of exchange, or a commodity. In the process, the thing accumulates value. One place where this happens is the market. A market describes both a physical place as well as the spaces inhabited by different socio-cultural wholes and different producers and consumers. The market as a place can be considered as an arena in which the materiality of such differences is tangible. Market goods reflect perceptions of style and taste.

‘The market’ as a place and space provides an opportunity for approaching equivalence relations in archaeology and anthropology. Economic goods highlight the commoditization-aspect that is central to the functioning of the market as a place. They can be commodities by destination (intended for exchange), by metamorphosis (intended for other uses but placed into the commodity state), by diversion (objects placed into a commodity state although originally specifically protected from it), or ex-commodities (things retrieved from the commodity-state). This market sets prices as value.

In archaeology, the physical location of a market is defined by material traces of economic transactions. The discipline of anthropology adds to this by defining markets not just as places but also as spaces of economic as well as socio-cultural exchange relationships and engagements.

What are the characteristic features of a market as a place and space within the disciplines of archaeology and anthropology? Which places and traces of exchange, trade, and distribution of goods can be found beyond the market’s location? Is it possible to retrace value relationships?

These and other questions will be central to the conference theme. Borrowing from an array of cases and locations, the goal is to gain new and improved understanding of the value of things in motion and of equivalence relationships. The focus will be on saleability and tradability of things, as well as on their spatial and temporal contexts, both within the fields of archaeology and anthropology.

The opening lecture of the conference will be held by Peter F. Bang.

Hans Peter Hahn – Fleur Kemmers – Franziska Lang