Ch2 Theory

2.1. Introduction

This study seeks to investigate long-term social and economic change from the perspective of production and exchange in a region with marked developmental changes in prehistory. First, major stages in south-central Andean prehistory have been widely discussed in the literature, including the transitions from foraging to food production, mobility to sedentism, egalitarianism to social ranking, and from low-level exchange to sustained interregional exchange. Should one not expect marked changes in the acquisition and production of obsidian that are correlated with these large scale prehistoric developments? For example, with the domestication of camelids and the emergence of llama caravans the costs in both time and labor in transporting weighty cargo, including obsidian nodules, must have dramatically decreased. Furthermore, with increased specialization one might expect merchant caravans or state-controlled interests to have emerged that benefit from the regional demand for obsidian. Complexities lurk behind each of these assumptions as these changes are largely co-evolutionary. Problems also lie in the very measures that are used to quantify changes in obsidian production, circulation, and consumption in the region.

Theoretical complications rest largely in three major issues; (1) the cross-cultural study of labor and value in economic anthropology, (2) associations between exchange and socio-political complexity, and (3) measures of prehistoric production that are both valid and practicable in the study of quarry areas. Each of these general issues will be addressed in turn below, and in the subsequent chapter (Ch. 3) the focus will be shifted to the south-central Andes.

Investigations using a close adherence to individual high-level theoretical approaches, particularly formal models of exchange and efficiency in production, were explored during the 1970s and 1980s in a number of obsidian quarry studies, most notably in the Mediterranean and in Mesoamerica. In these areas the regional trajectory benefits from distinct evolutionary changes like the development of highly efficient prismatic blades and well-documented mercantile traditions that perhaps conformed more closely to neoclassical economic cost-efficiency. Yet even in these areas, formal models encountered substantial difficulties in linking theoretical expectations with the breadth of regional exchange and in establishing empirical measures of control and efficiency beyond technical attributes of blade production. This study assumes a broader theoretical approach based primarily in finding correlates between evidence for prehispanic obsidian production and circulation and regional developments in economic organization and socio-political ranking. The theoretical issues presented here are linked to (1) evaluating the structure and level of independence of exchange networks and caravans, and (2) the degree of control exerted by household economies, aggrandizing individuals, and population centers prior to, and during, the Formative in the Lake Titicaca Region.

2.2. Anthropological approaches to economy and exchange

It is a critical limitation of archaeology, particularly when not given powerful assistance from historical sources, that it remains tied to the spatial distribution of imperishable objects or non-artifactual materials whose temporal sequence is seldom more than very roughly defined. Questions normally asked by archaeologists about trade and diffusion have been those which they can (or think they might be able to) answer directly and incontrovertibly from their data. But we must ask whether such questions are the important ones for an understanding of human society (Adams 1974: 139-140).

2.2.1. Economies

The study of ancient economies has long been a central theme in archaeological research. Lying at the intersection of human behavior and material goods, economy can often provide a theoretical basis for connecting features and artifacts with larger scale traits in prehistoric societies. Economic approaches to prehistory have the promise of bridging the premodern individuals and institutions of anthropological study with their material remains in a quantifiable way in order to examine processes such as change in subsistence, intensification, and exchange.

A fundamental question in economic anthropology concerns the cross-cultural applicability of economic models developed primarily for explaining behavior in Western, market-oriented societies. In the past 50 years economic anthropology has witnessed protracted debates between advocates of formal and substantive approaches to economy (Plattner 1989: 10-15). The perspective put forward by formalists is that ancient and non-western societies differ from those of modern capitalist societies in degree but not in kind (Wilk 1996). In contrast, substantivists recognize fundamental differences between ancient or non-capitalist societies and modern economies. These debates have been reconciled to a certain extent with the recognition that the two approaches largely complement each other. The distinct assumptions associated with formal and substantive economics, however, are critical to framing research questions about ancient economy, commodities, and exchange.

Formal approaches

Formal approaches explore the outcome of rational decision-making with regard to choices faced by prehistoric populations. By conceiving of economic behavior in terms of universal rationality, these approaches are analytically useful because they allow for the isolation of variables and for cross-cultural comparisons. Formal economic analyses are built on studies of modern markets by human geographers and involve reducing labor, land, and capital to the price as the unit of cost. Anthropologists using formal approaches may apply energy or time as value units to studies of food procurement, raw material provisioning, and settlement choice as in studies by behavioral ecologists (Winterhalder and Smith 2000) and archaeologists (Earle and Christenson 1980;Jochim 1976;Kennett and Winterhalder 2006).

Formal approaches to prehistoric exchange have been used by archaeologists to study the evolution in exchange systems both organizationally and from the perspective of individual behavior (Earle 1982: 2). On the larger scale, regression analysis (Hodder 1978;Renfrew 1977;Renfrew, et al. 1968;Sidrys 1977) and gravity models (Hodder 1974) use assumptions of cost minimization to differentiate between possible exchange systems in prehistory. "The sociopolitical institutions establish constraints in terms of the distribution and value of items. Then, individuals, acting within these institutional constraints, procure and distribute materials in a cost-conscious manner" (Earle 1982: 2). Neoclassical assumptions on the scale of individual behavior have also been used to examine the evolution of market based exchange (Alden 1982) and subsistence goods exchange by territorial groups exploiting high-yielding yet unpredictable resources (Bettinger 1982). A synthesis by Winterhalder (1997) investigates the way in which complex exchange behaviors that have been documented ethnographically can result from models of circumstance such as tolerated theft, trade and risk reduction, and models of mechanism such as kin selection and dual inheritance.

Critiques of formal approaches have been various, with strong methodological criticism coming from influential ex-formalists like Ian Hodder. On the subject of exchange, Hodder (1982: 202) observes that the explanatory power of formal approaches to prehistoric exchange are significantly weakened by the problem of equifinality in the empirical evidence, an issue discussed below. Hodder further argues that middle range links between social contexts, political strategies, and the empirical evidence provided by distributions of archaeological data are insufficiently accounted for with formal approaches such as regression analysis.

Substantive approaches

Substantivism arose in anthropology largely in response to what was perceived as the inapplicability of formal approaches and the assumptions of neoclassical economics to ethnographic case studies (Wilk 1996: 1-26). Substantive approaches emphasize that economy and exchange are fundamentally linked to other aspects of human behavior. To substantivists, economic institutions are effectively cultural traits, therefore techniques designed around "modern" or "western" conceptions of rational individualism are inadequate for application in non-western cultural contexts (Bohannan and Dalton 1962;Dalton 1969). The position was first articulated by Karl Polanyi (1957) that the economy is "embedded" in sociopolitical institutions. This view of economy and non-western exchange has its roots in studies by Malinowski (1922) and Mauss (1925), although the focus in that earlier period of economic anthropology was on social relationships, whereas social change dominated the discourse in economic anthropology during the 1960s (Dalton 1969).

Mid-twentieth century substantivism was based on a functionalist view of society as static and aspiring to the maintenance of equilibrium within the social environment (Schneider 1974). Interaction took place through reciprocity, redistribution, and exchange. Sahlins' (1965) further elaborated on reciprocity based exchange by placing generalized, balanced, and negative reciprocities along a continuum that served to describe the dynamics of interaction within specific social contexts. Another distinction lay between the transfer of inalienable gifts between reciprocally dependent individuals "that establishes a qualitative relationship between the transactors" (Gregory 1982: 101) and alienable commodities as transfer between reciprocally independent people "that establishes a quantitative relationship between the objects exchanged" (Gregory 1982: 100).

A number of critiques have emerged of the substantivist approach. One critique of substantivist approaches to exchange, one that is true of functionalism more generally, is an early version of agency theory. In the substantivist view, society is constructed of consistent rules within agents must act and includes a moral obligation of exchange (Dalton 1969: 77). In this organic perspective, however, "[t]here is little room for individual construction of social strategies and manipulation of rules, and there is little intimation of conflicts and contradictions between interests" (Hodder 1982: 200).

A second critique focuses on the distinction drawn by substantivists between complex and small-scale societies. Among complex societies, formal approaches are supposed to be more relevant, but in the context of small-scale societies substantive approaches are appropriate, and this dichotomy creates a dilemma of where exactly to draw the line. Monica L. Smith (1999: 111) argues that the ethnographic cases to which many substantivist models refer (i.e., small-scale societies) are lower in population density and involve fewer layers of interaction than would have been found in premodern states and empires and therefore formal approaches might have more relevance in premodern complex societies than is presented by substantivists.

A third critique holds that the direct correlation between forms of exchange and level of socio-political complexity lacks empirical support (Hodder 1982: 201). Anthropological studies suggest that unpredictability in food supply correlates with more extensive reciprocal exchange systems. Reciprocity is encountered more frequently among hunters, fishers and farmers than among gatherers and pastoralists who exploit relatively predictable resources (Pryor 1977: 4).

In the current day, Polyani's framework centering on the distinction between reciprocity, redistribution and market forces continues to be widely used in anthropology and archaeology, despite the development of alternative models that are particularly relevant to studies of commercialized pre-modern states. In particular, Michael E. Smith (2004) argues that more refined differentiation of transaction mechanisms can be used to distinguish the degree of internal and external commercialization in state-level societies, such as those presented by Carol A. Smith (1976). However, the subtleties of ancient commercial enterprise are less relevant in places like ancient Egypt and the Andes where historical and archaeological evidence attest to strong state control of uncommericalized economies without market-based economics, money, and independent merchants. In other words, Polyani's coarser distinctions of reciprocity, redistribution combined with non-market trade are sufficient in regions such as the ancient Andes where most scholars believe commerce played an minor role in prehistoric development (LaLone 1982;Stanish 2003). In Mesoamerica, however, where evidence for prehispanic markets and traders is widespread, anthropologists have found that Polyani's distinctions are vague and that models with further refinement in modes of commercialization are applicable (Braswell 2002;Smith 1976;Smith 2004).

Complementary applications of formal and substantive approaches

Formal and substantive approaches can be applied in a complementary manner. For example, in Stone Age Economics, Sahlins (1972) attempts to explain the existence of supply and demand curves among aboriginal exchange networks where social parameters determine the development of exchange. Winterhalder (1997) discusses some of the concepts presented by Sahlins (1972) using a behavioral ecology approach to gifts and exchange among non-market foragers. Winterhalder finds that issues such as social distance can be addressed more explicitly in a formal framework, albeit more narrowly, because economizing, neoclassical assumptions are a starting point for this type of analysis. As Hodder (1982: 200) points out, formal and substantive approaches are targeting different behaviors; formal economics relies on outputs and performance, while substantive analyses relate to social contexts of exchange.

While these differences make the two approaches irreconcilable on some levels, some studies attempt to integrate both avenues of research. Drawing on the advantages of both formalism and substantivism may be worthwhile, but a tendency to apply formal analyses to state-level societies, due to greater commercialism and specialization, and to apply substantive analyses to small-scale societies, should be resisted (Granovetter 1985;Gregory 1982;Smith 1999). The assumption that in premarket social contexts economic behavior is heavily embedded in social relations, but then is increasingly atomized and conforming to neoclassic analyses in modern, market-oriented societies is inconsistent. Granovetter (1985: 482) writes

I assert that the level of embeddedness of economic behavior is lower in nonmarket societies than is claimed by substantivists and development theorists, and it has changed less with 'modernization' than they believe; but I argue also that this level has always been and continues to be more substantial than is allowed for by formalists and economists (Granovetter 1985: 482).

Similarly, Danby (2002) observes that there are serious logical flaws in the false dichotomy, widely applied by archaeologists, where neoclassic, cost-minimizing logic is applied to premodern, complex societies but increasingly assuming an embedded "gift" economy among smaller-scale economies.

This dissertation research project follows on the substantivist tradition in the Andes, but formal approaches have been influential in exchange studies worldwide. The weaker elements of the substantivist approach will be avoided by not assuming a direct correspondence between socio-political complexity and volume or type of exchange.

2.2.2. Transfer of goods and exchange value

In the 1970s much of the debate had shifted from formalism and substantivism, to Marxism and structuralism. Marxists approach economic anthropology comparatively by focusing on production, arguing that society's basic forms of exploitation and inequality are continually being recreated in modes and relations of production (Godelier 1979). Structuralists hold that one had to understand the total system of meaning in order to interpret the relative value of items in a society, but they reject the functionalist assumption that economic institutions serve to integrate society (Graeber 2001: 18).

In the 1980s, the emphasis shifted to consumption. In an influential paper titled "Commodities and the Politics of Value," Arjun Appadurai (1986) states that anthropologists can more effectively examine cross-cultural patterns in economy and exchange by focusing on exchange from the consumption perspective. Appadurai follows Georg Simmel (2004 [1907]) in arguing that the source of an object's value is based in its exchangeability and the desire of the buyer, not the labor that went into production. As with formal approaches, this emphasis on exchange permits broad cross-cultural comparisons because exchange activities are universal characteristics of human behavior. Appadurai's approach shares some of the limitations of formal approaches. Appadurai focuses on the commodified value and the value that goods accrue primarily through transfer, which put constraints on the analytical potential for looking at the social and symbolic significance of human relationships organized around exchange. Rather, Appadurai investigates an object's "life history" as it has passed through multiple hands. The emphasis is shifted from two individuals exchanging goods to the relationship of equivalencies between the two objects being exchanged (Appadurai 1986: 12-17).

A notable challenge to Appadurai's contention that "circulation creates value" is Weiner's (1976: 180-183) observation that among the societies discussed by Mauss (1925) the value of the objects in question is associated with their original owners and their specific histories, and value is not the product of transfer. Thus, the value is not predominantly a result of demand, as asserted by Appadurai, and it is often the case that value reflects the inalienable properties of specific heirlooms some of which, like the royal crown jewels, do not circulate at all. Igor Kopytoff (1986: 74) describes a variety of items that have "singularity" due to restricted commercialization. Examples of this include ritual items or medicines in western society that are destined specifically for the intended patient that have prohibitions against resale. In his critique, David Graeber (2001: 34) suggests that for any society it might be possible to map "a continuum of types of objects ranked by their capacity to accumulate history: from crown jewels at the top, to, at the bottom, such things as a gallon of motor oil, or two eggs over easy". Unlike Appadurai, Graeber's approach places goods in a continuum that does not depend on transfer to establish the relative value of an item. The distinction between alienable and inalienable goods is linked to relative abundance and exclusivity of the products in question and to historic characteristics, like the degree of influence of a price-regulating market (Miller 1995).

Exchange and social distance

The dominant ethnographic approach in twentieth-century substantivist anthropology contrasts non-western gifting and exchange with capitalist, market-oriented trade in alienable commodities. Malinowski (1922) describes forms of exchange ranging from pure gifts to trade with increasing self-interest and "equivalence" as one moves towards the trade relationship. Mauss (1990 [1925]) attacks the notion of the pure gift and instead focuses on the temporal aspects of gift-giving, with the establishment of what are effectively ancient forms of credit. Further, Mauss focuses on the sociality of gift exchange with the idea that gifting can take hostile forms by inflicting obligations that the recipient may fear. Sahlins (1972: 191) subsumes the sociality of exchange relationships into a single trajectory with the concept of social distance. The "social distance" between exchange partners is a way of conceiving of the degree of familiarity and information transfer between producer and consumer of goods.

Figure 2-1. Varieties of reciprocal exchange (after Sahlins 1972: 199).

In Sahlins' classic taxonomy of reciprocity he identifies generalized, balanced, and negative reciprocity as a continuum from gift through exchange to haggling and theft, with explicitly different moral standards applying to transfers occurring in each sector. These modes of reciprocity were mapped directly on to increasing social distance originating in the household, although Sahlins was unspecific about the institutional forms of exchange, allowing for wide cross-cultural variation.

Besides the functionalist underpinnings of Sahlins' approach, one critique of his social distance model rests on his distinction between the role of the state and social relationships based on economic ties.

Because Sahlins is constructing a general theory, he is not obligated to deal with the refractory ethnographic data of one particular group. Hence, Malinowski's multiple heterogeneous categories of gifting never arise. In its place, Sahlins has a single Big Idea developed in the famous chapter on Hobbes and Mauss. The idea is that economics is politics for primitives. The understructure of human society, the default, is the chronic insecurity of Hobbes' "war of all against all." Primitives lack the state that is Hobbes' preferred remedy (Danby 2002: 24).

The result for Sahlins rests on a weak dichotomy between primitive|modern economic contexts that includes (1) primitive contexts where relations are mediated by social and economic relationships, and (2) modern contexts given over to the logic of neoclassic economics because commercialization and the circulation of alienable commodities are qualitatively different. Danby presents instead a "post-colonial critique [that] sees gift|exchange as yet another mapping of primitive|modern, an ultimately tautologous them|us split in which 'they' are various negations of what 'we' think 'we' are" (Danby 2002: 32). Anthropologists have sometimes followed this dichotomy where long-term investment and the establishment of social relationships in transactions is given over to the gift side, while exchange in alienable commodities is expected in complex, state level economies where exchange transactions are analyzed following the neoclassical approach and spot transactions are conducted in open markets.

In contrast, Danby argues that, if anything, one should expect greater temporal complexity and mechanisms for extending forward credit with greater social complexity.

Rather than building theory by pushing off against neoclassical exchange, let us put neoclassical exchange aside... the asocial spot transactions on the right-hand ends of [Sahlins' (Figure 2-1)] gift-exchange continua are also marginal to wealthy capitalist economies. Forward, debt creating transactions, embedded in social relations that often entail power, are central. Moreover, they are likely to be socially embedded in a variety of ways that should lead us to rethink the dichotomies between non-gift and gift (Danby 2002: 28).

Instead of framing the anthropological discussion of exchange in opposition to neoclassical approaches, Danby argues that the discussion should be reframed around institutions that underlie transactions in society and provide the long-term temporal milieu within which transactions occur. Temporality is particularly important when exchange is framed by production calendars based in agricultural cycles and by social calendars centered on gatherings and ceremonial occasions. By this standard, goods lying on the inalienable end of the continuum are fundamental to examining all economies in an anthropological light.

Common goods and luxury goods

The inalienability or uniqueness of an object sometimes parallels the categories of common and luxury items, with common items being mutable and replaceable. Yet, the classification as 'common' or 'luxury' for a given object is not discrete. It has been widely observed that the distinction between common and luxury items is contingent in space and time.

The line between luxury and everyday commodities is not only a historically shifting one, but even at any given point in time what looks like a homogeneous, bulk item of extremely limited semantic range can become very different in the course of distribution and consumption...Demand is thus neither a mechanical response to the structure and level of production nor a bottomless natural appetite. It is a complex social mechanism that mediates between short- and long-term patterns of commodity circulation (Appadurai 1986: 40-41).

Appadurai presents sugar as an example of a product with widely varying significance, and he observes that it is not merely the possession of exotic goods, but also the social significance of the knowledge surrounding the production or consumption of these goods, that carries significance. Goods that are irregularly distributed in space, portable, and that have wide consumption appeal such as sugar, salt and obsidian, were transported great distances in prehistory. For example, in the Mantaro Valley of the central Andes, Bruce Owen (2001: 280) notes that a number of metal items such as copper needles went from being wealth goods found primarily in elite contexts prior to the Inka conquest, to being utilitarian items and found with equal frequency in commoner contexts under Inka rule.

The movement of commodities has the significant effect of reinforcing relationships between social groups in the sense that the Kula ring promotes regular contact (Malinowski 1984 [1922]). However, in circumstances where the elite strive to control consumption of commodities, exchange can threaten the position of the elite. In Appadurai's perspective, both rulers and traders are the critical agents in articulating supply and demand of commodities.

The politics of demand frequently lies at the root of the tension between merchants and political elites; whereas merchants tend to be the social representatives of unfettered equivalence, new commodities, and strange tastes, political elites tend to be the custodians of restricted exchange, fixed commodity systems, and established tastes and sumptuary customs. This antagonism between "foreign" goods and local sumptuary (and therefore political) structures is probably the fundamental reason for the often remarked tendency of primitive societies to restrict trade to a limited set of commodities and to dealings with strangers rather than with kinsmen or friends. The notion that trade violates the spirit of the gift may in complex societies be only a vaguely related by-product of this more fundamental antagonism (Appadurai 1986: 33).

The suggestion that exchange promotes contact that threatens elite control results from either a relatively independent group of traders, or competing elites that utilize external contacts to advance their positions. Appadurai's point, however, is that in the realm of political finance one might expect established elites to strive to exert greater control over the values of production and exchange rather than relegate this important issue to those who traffic in long-distance goods, such as caravan drivers.

Following Polanyi, one might expect to find that in complex, premodern societies without market-based exchange there was dominance of administered trade. However, a number of scholars have observed that Polanyi (1957) appears to have ruled out precapitalist commercialism in ancient states a priori, as he claimed that there were no true markets or prices that reflected supply and demand in the ancient world, but rather equivalences in value that were set by rulers in an administered context. These "dogmatic misconceptions" (Trigger 2003: 59) appear to have caused Polanyi to distort the historical evidence as his views of administered markets in premodern states have been widely refuted (Smith 2004: 75-76;Snell 1997). Historian Philip Curtin (1984: 58) observes that even within contexts of administered control traders may have had more freedom than previously thought.

In some regional contexts, such as the prehispanic Andes, Polanyi's interaction types continue to be viable because there is little evidence of commercialization and open markets. The prevailing interpretation of prehispanic economy, for the Inka period in the central Andes at least, is "supply on command" (LaLone 1982) with elite economic domination primarily through labor mobilization. This issue will be explored in more detail in the Chapter 3, but Andeanists have largely found that Polanyi's non-commercial typology of premodern exchange suffices for analyses of prehispanic Andean economies.

Exchange promotes interaction between communities, yet Appadurai also explains that "such a tendency is always balanced by a countertendency, in all societies, to restrict, control, and channel exchange" (1986: 38). Under the rubric of "politics of value" Appadurai describes a pattern of institutional or elite control of commerce monopolizing or redirecting the flow of commodities. On this issue Graeber characterizes Appadurai's 1986 framework as "neoliberal" and describes it as follows

Appadurai leaves one with an image of commerce (self-interested, acquisitive calculation) as a universal human urge, almost a libidinal, democratic force, always trying to subvert the powers of the state, aristocratic hierarchies, or cultural elites whose role always seems to be to try to inhibit, channel, or control it. It all rather makes one wish one still had Karl Polanyi (1944) around to remind us how much state power has created the very terms of what is now considered normal commercial life (Graeber 2001: 33).

Appadurai cites examples of historic royal monopolies and sumptuary laws restricting trade items in Rhodesia and renaissance Europe support his argument (Appadurai 1986: 38). However, without the state-organized overhead of basic institutions guaranteeing peace, investment, and the protection of property, the movement of goods would involve much more danger of theft by brigands or goods could be simply confiscated by rival authorities.

Appadurai's focus on consumption is a significant contribution in that it releases anthropologists to address activities specifically related to consumption behavior, even though the neglect of production presents an incomplete picture of economy. Consumption loci are often the contexts where the strongest evidence or patterning of interaction is found. Thus, consumption is particularly useful to archaeologists who may only have evidence of changing consumption patterns, or who must infer links between production and consumption indirectly.

Exchange in subsistence, cultural, and prestige technologies

The distinction between the circulation of common and luxury goods observed by anthropologists can be considered in terms of the larger economy and the organization of technology by linking these concepts to those of practical and prestige technologies. As described broadly by Hayden (1998), practical technologies are those that are primarily organized around principles of sufficiency and effectiveness, while the logic of prestige technologies is fundamentally different because it is oriented towards social strategies where greater labor investment in products serves to communicate the wealth, success, and power of the parties involved. A third category, termed cultural goods, will also be used to examine the relationship between material culture and exchange. The concepts of practical, cultural, and prestige goods will be used to link long term changes in the organization of technology and production with consumption patterns and socio-political evolution.

This framework is relevant to this discussion of anthropological approaches to exchange because it places the contrasting behavior that Appadurai terms "common" and "luxury" goods into an empirical and evolutionary framework capable of addressing change over long time periods. Thus while the earlier discussion of "luxury goods" that transcend social and political boundaries referred to particular contexts of circulation, these are specific manifestations of goods Hayden would include in the broad category of prestige technology, as these objects are labor intensive to produce or acquire.

The concepts of practical and prestige technologies parallel in some ways the economic distinction made by Earle (1987;1994) between subsistence and political economies. The household level subsistence economy is based on satisficing logic, while the political economy involves the mobilization of surpluses and competition between political actors, and is subject to the maximizing strategies of elites. The organization of technology is sometimes approached in terms of three groups as Binford (1962) has done with "technomic", "sociotechnic", and "ideotechnic" categories. For Binford, technomic objects correspond to "practical technology", and the sociotechnic and ideotechnic groups would largely, but not exclusively, overlap with "prestige technologies". Hayden (1998: 15) observes that labor inputs are low but sociotechnic significance is high in Australian Aboriginal string headbands that signal adult status, and labor is low but ideotechnic significance is high in a pair of crossed sticks tied together to represent a crucifix. Hayden points out that despite these exceptions, items of ritual and social significance are often made with relatively costly materials (such as gold crucifixes) but he admits that many items fall between his categories such as decorated antler digging-stick handles, and "the analysis of such objects becomes especially complex where the prestige materials such as metals or jade are actually more effective, but far more costly, than more commonly used materials" (Hayden 1998: 44-45). Obsidian presents a similar dilemma where, on the one hand it is rare in many regions, and it is unusual-looking, and yet it is also more effective for many kinds of cutting functions and so the inducement to use the material is not straight-forward. As an object can move between categories it should be said that ultimately the significance of an item is not an inherent property of the object, but rather it is created by contexts of use or consumption and should best be considered in terms of labor, exchangeability or life-history (Appadurai 1986;Graeber 2001).




Subsistence Goods

Practical technology. As a response to stresses item must be effective. Widely available, minimizing costs due to satisficing logic, distributed shorter distances.

Simple tools: axes, saws. Simple baskets and pottery. Bulky, low value foods (i.e., cereals, tubers). Common metals (later Old World prehistory).

Cultural Goods

Widely available goods, but with information content and social and ideological significance. Aesthetic but non-labor intensive and non-exclusive designs.

Some projectile technology. Textiles, shell, herbs and medicines such as coca leaf. Items for commonplace rituals.

Prestige Goods

High labor inputs, investment logic due to political potential of consuming labor, sometimes wide distribution in circumscribed contexts. Competition may mean that these are consumed or destroyed.

Rare metals; serving vessels: ceramics, baskets; jewelry; tailored clothing. Musical instruments, high value foods, rare or costly herbs and medicines.

Table 2-1. Three categories of exchange goods, the boundaries on these categories are contingent on contexts of production, circulation, and consumption. Many items like meat, maize, and obsidian tools can belong in any one of these groups depending on form and availability.

According to Hayden (1998: 44) any material that is transported more than two days should probably be considered a prestige technology due to labor investment, however he mentions that perhaps a useful intermediate category of "cultural goods" could be defined consisting of non-prestige ritual or social artifacts. In his analysis of long distance caravans in the Andes, Nielsen (2000: 66-67) borrows concepts from Hayden's practical and prestige technologies with some modification for a discussion of exchange goods. Nielsen defines "subsistence goods" and "prestige goods", but he also defines a third category as "cultural goods" to include maize used for subsistence but also for ritual, as well as coca and textiles. These goods are often non-exclusive, but their form and consumption carries significance and the circulation of such items does not conform to the satisficing logic of practical technologies and subsistence goods.

Ordinary goods and archaeological theory

The fact that many artifacts cannot easily be classified into one of the above groups in a particular time or cultural context shows the difficulties inherent in developing a generalized framework for addressing production and exchange through prehistory. Obsidian is a prime example of a material that has practical value, but it is visually distinct and it is also a material with cultural significance and prestige associations in some contexts. Thus, while the focus in exchange studies has been on prestige goods linked to status competition, because these activities have evolutionary consequences, subsistence goods may also contain social or cultural information. The association of items luxury or commonplace categories is a function of geography, technology, and socially defined valuation.

Information content and everyday goods

Monica L. Smith (1999) develops an argument based on a dichotomy between "luxury goods" and "ordinary goods", where some of the ordinary items used in household activities and moved through kin-based exchange networks form an important, material component of group identity. This essay could also be used to support an argument for an intermediate category of cultural goods. Smith notes that the circulation and consumption of such ordinary but visually distinct household goods serve to maintain cultural links and symbolize status markers that probably precede, and indeed form the structure for, later social ranking. She observes that archaeological discussions of exchange often falsely imply that exchange links were established by an exclusive elite population and these links eventually become established and expand to ordinary goods.

Brumfiel and Earle (1987: 6) find the distinction between luxury and utilitarian goods setting the stage for the organization of economic activity in early complex societies, citing "... the lack of importance of subsistence goods specialization for political development." The sequence in which different types of goods are incorporated into exchange patterns is explained as an evolutionary sequence paralleling developments in sociopolitical complexity, so that "as trading routes and trading relationships became more firmly established, everyday goods were added to the merchants' repertoire...and came to supply not only valuable items for elites but also food staples and utilitarian wares for people in the society generally" (Berdan 1989: 113; cited in Smith 1999: 113).

Some scholars have historically placed a priority on the influence of status or luxury goods by elites in some centralized political sphere in stimulating and maintaining long distance trade links (Brumfiel and Earle 1987;Smith 1976), arguing that the political objectives of elites and aspiring elites were the impetus for long-distance links. Yet as M. L. Smith (1999) applies the socio-semiotics of Gottdiener (1995), the consumption of particular materials can have social significance and can convey information content at a variety of levels. Thus the capacity for kin-based reciprocal exchange networks to distribute household items over distance, or household level caravans to emphasize relatively mundane products, should not be underestimated.

The intent of many archaeologists focusing on the role of status goods exchange seems to be not necessarily to deny the capacity and symbolism of household-level exchange as much as it is to emphasize the political and economic significance of exchange in status goods controlled by elites. Goods that circulate widely within a particular community may serve to express community participation or corporate affiliation (Blanton, et al. 1996). Hayden's distinction of practical and prestige technologies focuses instead on effectiveness, for the first group, and high labor inputs for the second. Thus, to reconcile this with M. L. Smith's argument, the third group that includes "cultural goods" conveys important social and ideological information beyond the satisficing "effectiveness" stipulation, but simultaneously is widely available and cross-cuts social hierarchy.

Availability and consumption patterns

One reason that subsistence goods, cultural goods, and prestige goods are non-exclusive categories is that consumption patterns associated with these goods have changed as availability changed through time. The availability of a given material changes through time, be it obsidian in the prehispanic Andes or glass drinking vessels in ancient Rome, and availability conditions the importance of its consumption (Appadurai 1986: 38-39;Smith 1999: 113-114). In cases of intensified craft production, availability may be determined by labor specialization, production units, intensity, locus of control, and context of production (Costin 2000). With commodities based on raw materials, the primary determinant of availability in most cases is geographical distance from the source, but economic patterns, socio-political barriers, technology of procurement and transport, and rate of consumption all affect availability.

Along with naturally occurring raw materials that are irregularly distributed across the natural landscape, such as obsidian where sources are rare, one may expect behaviors associated with scarcity to apply to geologically occurring minerals only with diminished availability as one moves away from the source of these goods. Thus the availability of goods such as obsidian over the larger consumption zone for these materials will vary from abundant to scarce depending on geographical relationships and socio-economic links between the source and the consumption zone. The archaeological study of commodity distribution, and in particular the relationship to economy and to socio-political evolution, spawned years of research into regional exchange beginning with the work of Colin Renfrew (1969) and that of his colleagues.

The circulation of flaked stone

Focusing here on the differences in artifact use in regions where raw materials are abundant, versus those places where they are rare, permits several generalizations with regards to raw material consumption. As a material class, flaked stone is durable and often the material is sourcable to geological origin point and due to these features, lithics analysis share some attributes with consumption studies of other artifact classes. One characteristic that differentiates lithics is that they are among the more resilient archaeological materials, and are sometimes used as a proxy for mobility or exchange. However, the lithics material class is comparable with other artifacts of consumption like ceramics, food goods and textiles, in that lithics are used to produce goods that range from mundane or subsistence-level to elaborate forms that imply the goods were inscribed with social or ritual importance.

Lithics have important differences from other artifact classes, however. Principally, the production of stone tools is a reductive technology and flaked stone tools inevitably become smaller with use. This directionality of lithic reduction, which allows for technical analysis and refitting studies, signifies that, unlike metal projectiles, textiles, and other widely exchanged materials, the down-the-line transfer and use of lithics has distinctly circumscribed use-life based on reduction. The second major implication of the reductive nature of stone is in regards to the social distance between the producer and consumer. As stone artifacts become inexorably smaller with production and use, larger starting nodules can take more potential forms and have a generalized utility that is progressively lost as reduction proceeds. In terms of the exchange value of a projectile point as a "cultural good", the roughing out of a lanceolate point, for example, may have determined the cultural value of the preform such that it would have had less potential, and therefore less value, in contexts where triangular points are used. With scarce lithic raw materials the size of the item probably related directly with its reduction potential; therefore larger nodules would probably have had value in a wider range of consumption contexts.

Lithic procurement, distribution, and consumption are in some ways comparable with other classes of portable artifacts, and in some ways quite distinct. Archaeologists have used the spatial relationships between lithic raw material and behavior to study the ways in which the availability of a particular material type affects prehistoric behavior with respect to production, curation and mobility (Bamforth 1986;Luedtke 1984;Shott 1996). Procurement, distance from source, and the embedding of lithic provisioning in subsistence rounds have specific consequences with respect to raw material use in the vicinity of a geological source area (Binford 1979;Gould and Saggers 1985), an issue to be discussed in more detail below. Regardless of mode of transfer and other distributional issues, the use of lithic raw materials, as with other artifact classes, is contingent on variability in a number of dimensions. These dimensions include whether the material is abundant or rare, lightly or intensely procured, laden with cultural or prestigious associations, as well as circulation and demand, although many of these variables can be difficult to isolate archaeologically.

2.2.3. Transfer of goods and socio-political complexity

Prehistoric exchange has long been central in anthropological and economic models of socio-political change. Exchange has been discussed by social theorists, anthropologists and archaeologists the debating the ultimate causes of socio-political inequality that emerged independently during the Holocene in different regions of the world. In the course of the last 12,000 years, archaeological evidence documents a change from a worldwide of hunting and gathering groups with relatively egalitarian, village-level social organization to, in a few places world-wide, in-situ development of state-level society with large settlements, greater concentration of wealth, and hierarchical economic and political organizations. While anthropological models accounting for political and economic change have been refined over the past century, evidence of exchange has consistently served as a material indicator of regional interaction and differential access to exotic goods within a community.

Exchange as a prime mover?

Regional exchange is of particular utility to anthropological archaeology because it is a material phenomenon that occurs at the intersection of social relationships, resource procurement, and individual or community differentiation. However, exchange has been attributed with great causal significance in the past and, while it provides evidence of particular utility to anthropologists and archaeologists, it is important to not ascribe excessive significance to exchange in human affairs. For example, to V. Gordon Childe (1936) long distance trade was a prime mover that had direct social evolutionary consequences. Engaging in trade had derived benefits that can affect the balance of power between competing polities and stimulate larger forms of organization.

In the 1970s, Rathje (1971;1972) proposed that it was the lowland Maya need for "essentials" like obsidian, salt, and grinding stones that propelled them to seek external sources for these scarce goods, initiating long-distance relationships. Those who control access to scarce materials accrued benefits from their position in the trade network, he argued, and hierarchies emerged from the differential access to these required, or desired, trade goods. Virtually all of Rathje's postulates have since been disproved, but some variant of the theme first articulated in Rathje's exchange model underlies many contemporary investigations of ancient trade (Clark 2003: 33-34).

In the multilinear evolutionary framework of Johnson and Earle (1987), trade is part of an array of processes that are relevant to socio-political development, but trade does not become a dominant process until the formation of the Nation-State.

Economic Processes in Political Evolution

Local Group

Regional Chiefdom

Early State






risk management


(risk management)

(risk management)









Table 2-2. Economic processes in political evolution (Johnson and Earle 1987: 304) where capitalized words indicates a dominance of that process, parenthesis indicate important secondary processes.

The approach taken here is that all human groups engage in exchange in some form and it therefore serves as a consistent index of regional relationships through time. Furthermore some trade items, such as obsidian, appear to have been part of a suite of features that, at particular times and socio-political contexts, serve to differentiate individuals or groups from the rest of their community for purposes relating to political strategy. While exchange is not a prime mover for socio-political change, transfer between peoples and groups in different forms provides a vehicle for social differentiation and a materialization of geographical relationships that are closely linked to socio-political organization. Thus, while one may see exchange occurring over the long term, it is not a prime-mover but it is changes in evidence of production, transfer, and consumption of non-local goods that inform theoretical models of prehistoric change.

Exchange concepts reflect the current theory

Forty years ago, advances in technical analysis in archaeology, in particular geochemical sourcing, initiated several decades of research into exchange by archaeologists. Following the dominant theoretical approaches of the time, adaptationalist or managerial models held that socio-political change was stimulated by factors that impacted the entire cultural system. Such changes could be stimulated by a combination of factors, including external pressures and internal pressures. External pressures include resource stress, drought, and warfare. Internal pressures include greater efficiency in organization despite larger population levels, irrigation, and organizational complexity due to circumscription.

More recent theoretical approaches focus on social and political strategies prioritize the active role of individuals in the process of political change. The role of commodity exchange in the onset and dynamics of socio-political complexity connects the exchange behavior documented by anthropologists with the long term changes that underlie the archaeological evidence of exchange in prehistory. Leveling mechanisms among hunter-gatherers promote intergroup sharing and are especially prominent when resource predictability is low. With greater resource predictability, and especially when resources are intensifiable, these leveling mechanisms often begin to break down and social differentiation is observed.

Exchange is thought to have been one of a number of interacting behaviors by "aggrandizing" individuals that had the indirect result of institutionalizing social inequality (Clark and Blake 1994;Flannery 1972;Hayden 1995;Hayden 1998;Upham 1990). What were the socio-political contexts that permitted individuals to differentiate themselves, and how did individuals pursuing their interests result in the long-term changes observed archaeologically?

Early leaders

While early social hierarchy emerged from the so-called egalitarian contexts of small-scale societies, Wiessner (2002: 233) observes that "hierarchy characterizes the societies of our closest non-human primate ancestors and seems to be deeply rooted in human behavior" and social hierarchy can therefore be considered a "reemergence" of hierarchy. Egalitarianism is not the "tabula rasa for human affairs on which aggrandizers impress their designs" (Wiessner 2002: 234); rather, it is the result of coalitions and complex institutions of weaker individuals in society that curbs the ambitions of the strong and results in egalitarian structures that were as complex and varied as hierarchical power structures. Wiessner argues that cooperative behavior, such as elaborate exchange relationships, in egalitarian institutions fostered ideologies of coalition building and cooperation in kinship-based networks that extended far beyond local groups. While the egalitarian ethos constrained the competitive activities of aggrandizers, these institutions also provided powerful tools to the cooperative structure that could be used to the advantage of aggrandizers. Exchange has particular significance in agency models that strive to explain how the activities of aggrandizers can result in institutionalized inequalities because exchange can contribute to an understanding of the relationship between structure and agency at this juncture.

Aggrandizers had to work within powerful institutional boundaries that already existed in egalitarian societies in order to forward their interests. The changing nature of exchange, embedded within shifting institutional contexts, complements the emphasis on alienable commodities (Appadurai 1986, see Section 2.2.2). Aggrandizing individuals operate within institutional contexts, indeed their vehicle to promotion is social recognition, yet the ability to organize resources to obtain lower costs for particular items benefits aggrandizers and their supporters. Exchange is a universal feature of human societies, and studies that document the diversity of forms that exchange takes in contexts of early social ranking can shed light on the specific strategies used by aggrandizers that resulted in institutionalized inequality (Clark and Blake 1994).

Prehistoric institutions

Beginning with settlement pattern studies explored by Julian Steward, processual archaeologists often assume regional perspectives that emphasized social and organizational processes (Willey and Sabloff 1974). Building on Polanyi's observation that fundamental aspects of human institutions are economic, archaeologists understood that documenting the regional distributions of artifacts resulting from prehistoric mobility or exchange could contribute to reconstructing past societies. Archaeologists can use direct evidence from the production and consumption of archaeological materials and inference about the likelihood and form of prehistoric exchange to point to the institutional contexts of the ancient economy.

In Polanyi's (1957) seminal article outlining the substantive approach, "The economy as an instituted process," the economy is characterized in terms of two linked properties. First, there is the material process by which items are produced, circulated, and consumed; second, there is the economic form organized around socio-political relationships that arranges interactions diachronically and spatially. In this context, institutions serve as rules and obligations connecting human organizations around the process of producing and circulating goods. The implication is that an archaeological study of variation in prehistoric economies requires that archaeologists can document differences in the institutions that structured past economies.

Many contemporary theoretical approaches downplay the importance of structural analyses in favor of agent-based models, however anthropologists using New Institutional Economics (North 1990) are emphasizing the interdependence of institutions and economics and the implications for activities of individuals (Acheson 2002;Ensminger 2002). Douglass North (1990: 3) defines institutions as "the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction". This view considers how institutions developed from the decisions of individuals over long periods of time, affecting transaction costs through the benefits of coordinated activity. "Based on the advantages of lower transaction costs in commodity flows, [these anthropologists] argue that political and social institutions developed to regulate commodity flows, maintain regional peace, and guarantee contracts" (Earle 2002: 82). In this perspective, institutional complexity developed as rules to govern the economizing nature of individuals, and the emergence of such institutions should be correlated with increasing quantities of commodity exchange in prehistory. The perspective that argues that volume of exchange should correlate with increased social complexity has roots in theories of progressive evolution (Childe 1936), adaptionalist views (Steward 1955), and the managerial role of chiefs (Service 1962).

However, a positive correlation between evolving institutional complexity and a uniform increase in volume or variety of exchange in prehistory is not supported empirically (Brumfiel 1980;Hughes 1994;Kirch 1991). That is, contrary to the evolutionary expectations of some theorists, the volume or variety of goods transferred does not necessarily reflect the political or institutional complexity in a given society. Perhaps some of this inconsistency is the result of elite control of the circulation of commodities as proposed by Appadurai (1986: 38). Earle (1994: 420-421) observes that on the whole, the archaeological evidence is characterized by a great deal of variability in the types of goods exchanged, the volume of exchange, and the social contexts of exchange. In order to address this variability in an evolutionary framework, Earle suggests that exchange should be considered in terms of two categories, the subsistence economy and the political economy[1](Johnson and Earle 2000), with exchange taking different forms in each category of the economy. The exchange in these two forms of economy correspond largely to the distinction discussed earlier between ordinary goods and prestige goods where, according to Earle, political strategy is advanced by elites by, among other things, the manipulation of exchange relationships.

In a non-evolutionist application of New Institutional Economics in anthropology, Wiessner (2002: 235) differs from North in arguing that transaction costs for exchange are actually high in small-scale societies due to the close relationship between social and economic transactions; there is less neutral space for "unembedded" economic behavior with their associated overhead costs. In such contexts egalitarian institutions developed to foster trust and make interactions more predictable.

In non-market economies in which kin-based exchange systems play an important role in reducing risk (Wiessner 1982;Wiessner 1996) the goal of exchange is to be covered in times of need. In this context, the social and the economic are closely intertwined (Mauss 1925) and it is undesirable for returns to be stipulated as to time, quantity, or quality (Sahlins 1972). The most valuable information in such exchanges is the details of the partner - what he or she has to offer and will offer over the long run (Wiessner 2002: 235).

Elaborate institutions regulating behavior are not new, argues Wiessner, but if there is a weakening in the egalitarian prohibition against the accumulation of wealth or power the "alchemy of ambition" (Wiessner 2002: 234) drives a few individuals to seek preferential access to resources. In contexts of regional packing and circumscription it is argued that hierarchies emerge (Brown 1985;Johnson 1982) that are perhaps founded on the control of labor and surpluses, and instituted through ritual (Aldenderfer 1993;Hayden 1995)

Materialist perspectives hold that economic gains are used to bring about changes in the social order, and that these changes are then legitimized and perpetuated through ideology. These economic gains are generally achieved through intensification of production and through finance organized by ambitious individuals (Boone 1992;Earle 1997;Hayden 1995). Clark and Blake (1994: 17), building on practice theory (Bourdieu 1977;Giddens 1979), describe a model whereby institutionalized inequality is the unintended outcome of political actors competing for prestige by using strategies that match the self-interests of their supporters. Ultimately, these strategies may develop into redistributive institutions that appear to build on the social-leveling mechanisms described by Wiessner (1996), but operate on a larger scale and result in political advantage for redistributing leaders and their allies. In other words, it is institutions themselves that form the basis for leveling mechanisms, and it is institutions that are transformed into vehicles that serve to, in part, legitimize social inequalities.

An important temporal component to exchange is connected to institutions as well because transactions involve anticipation and scheduling. As Colin Danby (2002) argues, most transactions in neoclassical economic analyses in anthropology are considered as synchronic "spot transactions" of commodities, while long term interpersonal relationships enter the domain of gifts in a gifts: commodities dichotomy. The temporality of reciprocation is a means by which economic transactions are embedded inside of social calendars, but various socially-mediated methods of extending credit are well-established and probably an ancient manner of precipitating exchange in market-based transfers as well.

Pastoralism, caravans, and social inequalities

The domestication of cargo-bearing animals contributed several important elements that transformed the nature of regional exchange relationships. First, there are some cross-cultural commonalities in the structure of contemporary societies practicing pastoralism, and it is probable that these factors had some role in prehistoric pastoral societies as well. Second, cargo-bearing animals transform the costs of transport and, consequently, the nature of long-distance interaction. Finally, the structure of wealth in animal herds conveys particular scalar advantages to powerful kin-groups that possess large herds. These factors condition long-term transformations such as sedentism, the nature of food production, and the institutionalization of social inequalities. These issues will be explored in three sections: household level articulation with agriculturalists, wealth accumulation among herders that is limited by risk and pasture, and caravans and the organization of pastoral labor.

Household level articulation with agriculturalists

An important structuring principle to pastoralist exchange is that herding systems are not economically independent because humans must consume a sufficient diversity of major food groups for nutritional reasons; a condition known as non-autarkic (Khazanov 1984;Nielsen 2000). Depending on available wild plants, herders may acquire a portion of their non-animal products from gathering activities but the more common solutions involve a mixed agro-pastoral strategy or articulation with agriculturalists. Furthermore, herders with animals capable of bearing loads are the natural agents for facilitating this articulation with agriculturalists (Browman 1990;Flores Ochoa 1968). Thus, exchange relations are a basic necessity for dedicated herders. For herders with cargo animals, the transport of exchange goods in some capacity was likely a regular feature of pastoral household economies, and to become more common and less laborious in terms of quantity of goods exchanged due to assistance of cargo animals. As pastoralist households are not autarkic, due to the need for non-animal foods on a regular basis, households usually have cargo animals as part of their herd and relatively brisk exchange networks are likely to develop between households without the need for elites, administrative oversight or investment from super-family organization.

Limitations to accumulation by herders

Inequalities are evident in most pastoral societies as owners with large herds are better able to maximize by grazing all available lands when conditions allow and hiring additional help with herding tasks like shearing and butchering. Furthermore, large herds can reproduce more quickly, are better able to survive hardship, and better maintain a minimum herd size threshold for viability. Nevertheless, pastoral wealth is widely recognized as unstable due to the overall vulnerability to drought, disease, parasites, predators, theft, and accidents that can cause declines of over 50% in a given year (Khazanov 1984: 156;Kuznar 1995;Nielsen 2000: 42;Salzman 1999). Herders mitigate this risk by diversifying production, maintaining extensive exchange networks, holding access to grazing land in common, and utilizing other institutional means of risk reduction, such as the redistribution mechanism of suñay among Andean pastoralists (Flannery, et al. 1989).

A significant pastoral institution that appears to function as a leveling mechanism is the corporate ownership of pasture. While herds are typically held by individuals or kin-groups, herding is spatially extensive rather than intensive, and access to pasture in herding societies almost universally requires community negotiation (Ingold 1980;Khazanov 1984;Nielsen 2000: 46-51). Among pastoral societies that do not store fodder the carrying capacity of the land, and therefore the intensifiability of production, is limited by the season with the lowest productivity (Nielsen 2000: 43). Finally, in some regions of the world, such as the Andes, modern herds are bilaterally inherited which serves to prevent accumulation in specific descent groups (Lambert 1977;Webster 1973: 123). Thus, herding does not organizationally contain the seeds for social inequality, but intensified pastoral wealth in the form of very large herds has been documented as one principal form of investment in ethnohistorically known hierarchical societies in herding regions.

Caravans and the organization of pastoral labor

Pastoralist societies that organize into seasonal trade caravans share structural characteristics; some of these characteristics tend towards promoting social inequalities and others that counter-act the tendency (Browman 1990). The organizing of a trade caravan is often simplified among dedicated pastoralists because pastoralism is relatively efficient in the use of labor, and the herding and caravanning schedules can be prioritized (Nielsen 2000: 44-45). A single herder can monitor hundreds of animals on a typical, uneventful day of pasturing without a great deal of effort, and as physical labor is low as compared with agricultural tasks, children and the elderly often contribute and broaden the herding labor pool. As a consequence, during caravan season the loss of several capable family members (usually adult men) to the caravan journey for weeks or months during a single year may not unduly hamper the productivity of a household of dedicated pastoralists.

As mentioned above, all pastoral households must acquire non-pastoral products through diversification or exchange, however the ability to organize a caravan inherently favors the wealthier herders for several reasons.

(1) Herders with large herds are more likely to have a sufficient number of hearty animals capable of enduring long journeys with cargo.

(2) Caravan animals provide the mechanism of transport. Therefore, for direct exchange consisting of spot transactions, pastoralists must initiate the trade opportunity by traveling to their trade partners with a sufficient surplus of goods to acquire goods in exchange.

(3) The rewards of such trade caravans accrue differentially, allowing those who regularly participate in such ventures to acquire access to non-pastoral resources, a more extensive social network and perhaps fictive kin among distant trade partners, and enhanced prestige among their community.

While some elements of dedicated herding societies favor differential accumulation of wealth in the form of large herds, diversification of the resource base, and extensive trade networks, the realities of high risk to pastoral wealth and low intensity of land use affect all herding households equally to the extent that they dedicate themselves to pastoralism. Thus, while redistributive mechanisms and corporate tenure of pasture serve to stabilize pastoral systems, the structure of herding systems also provides a few opportunities for strategic advantage to more opportunistic and aggrandizing elements of prehistoric society. In addition, despite the risk in herding systems the ownership of a large herd may directly confer prestige on pastoralists (Aldenderfer 2006;Hayden 1998;Kuznar 1995: 45), and inequalities in pastoral wealth can be channeled into more enduring and intensifiable avenues such as increased exchange (ultimately resulting in large trade caravans) or a mixed agro-pastoral strategy. As a pastoral economy with cargo transport capabilities first takes hold in a region, increased social differentiation may reflect a co-evolution between more extensive exchange relationships, greater sedentism, population increases, and larger population centers.

2.2.4. Definitions of exchange

Studies of exchange can contribute to understanding human behavior because, more than any other species, humans have possessions and shift them between individuals. A person can acquire an object of wealth either by producing it or exchanging for it. In the terms used by economic anthropologists, exchange takes a number of forms in social interaction. Wealth is the objective of a person's labor and is therefore culturally determined. Markets refers to a market-based economy where prices reflect supply and demand (LaLone 1982: 300), as is not to be confused with aggregated transfers of various forms occurring in marketplaces. Exchange or trade are commonly used terms for processes referred to more generally by economists as transfer or allocation (Hunt 2002). Commodities, goods, and products are used here synonymously here and do not imply exchangeability or alienability.

Polanyi and the economics of exchange

The principal forms of economic organization outlined by Karl Polanyi (1957) - reciprocity, redistribution, and market forces - have been widely used in anthropological discussions of exchange. Paul Bohannan describes the relevance of these economic modes to exchange:

Reciprocity involves exchange of goods between people who are bound in non-market, non-hierarchical relationships to one another. The exchange does not create the relationship, but rather is part of the behavior that gives it context.
Redistribution is defined by Polanyi as a systematic movement of goods towards an administrative center and their reallotment by the authorities at the center.
Market Exchange is the exchange of goods at prices determined by the law of supply and demand. Its essence is free and casual contract (Bohannan 1965: 232).

In principle, the price-fixing aspect of market based exchange has an integrative effect and entails communication between segments of the exchange sphere. For the trader, market exchange involves risk and potential profit. For the producer, the consumption patterns and fluctuations in demand should be sensed all the way back in the contexts of production. Market articulation in land-locked regions of Asia and North Africa provided the initial contexts for large-scale caravans in the Old World. With caravans perennially under threat of robbery or obligation to pay duties for crossing sovereign land, the "nomadic empires of the Turk, Mongol, Arabic, and Berber peoples were spread out like nets alongside transcontinental caravan routes" (Polanyi 1975: 146-149). In contrast to market mechanisms, Polanyi also described exchange modes of institutional or administered trade, where material needs were satisfied through the movement of goods but the practice was not motivated by "profit" for merchants in the market sense of the term but rather to meet institutional goals (Salomon 1985: 516;Stanish 1992: 14;Valensi 1981: 5-6). In this type of trade, value and equivalencies are established by political authority or by precedent.

Characteristics of a market economy

Markets are of particular interest in this discussion because while market principles, to a certain extent, underlie all formal economic approaches in anthropology, market-based economies are far from universal in the premodern world, even among state-level societies. A basic definition of a market is "the situation or context in which a supply crowd (sellers) and a demand crowd (buyers) meet to exchange goods and services" and where the market principle is operating (Dalton 1961: 1-2). Three characteristics used by Earle to evaluate the evidence for market-based exchange in the Inka state include: (1) The importance of specialized institutions of production and exchange divorced in their operations from other institutional relationships; (2) The development of a medium of exchange to facilitate the systematization of exchange values; (3) The percentage of goods utilized by a household that are obtained by exchange (Earle 1985: 372-373).

The presence of exchange institutions, either as bustling marketplaces or distributed as "site-free" exchange houses, have a characteristic described by Earle (1985: 373) as a context where "non-exchange relationships, such as kinship and political ties, will not unduly constrain choice". The alienability of products, the strong influence of price motive and the detachment from production and other social linkages, underlie many of the features of these proposed institutions. The consensus among Andeanists is that during Inka domination, and probably during the preceding periods, market-based economies were not found in the central and southern Andes with a few exceptions (Earle 2001;LaLone 1982; but see href="/biblio/ref_2005">Salomon 1986;Stanish 2003).

The location of transfer becomes important with respect to price-fixing markets. In aggregations the public nature of the contact and the circulation of information is quite different from isolated exchanges. These issues are linked to the spatial and temporal configuration of exchange in market economies because just as periodic gatherings, central places, and rank-size geographic relationships serve to distribute goods in some settlement systems, these aggregations serve to distribution information about availability of products and changing prices to buyers and sellers (Smith 1976;Smith 1976). When exchange takes place in a private courtyard rather than a public marketplace then there is reduced risk of the neighbor overhearing the barter exchange value offered to another (Blanton 1998;Humphrey and Hugh-Jones 1992). Greater public visibility and monitoring in market contexts might be expected, and greater privacy, interpersonal negotiation, and temporal depth to exchange relationships in private barter exchange configurations.

Variations on Modes of Exchange

Some scholars have built on Polanyi's four original modes of exchange, others have developed entirely new schema (Smith 1976). Earle (1977: 213-216) argues that Polanyi's (1957: 250) definition of redistribution as "appropriational movements towards a center and out of it again..." is vague and Earle observes that this definition is so broad that it could to apply to economic systems ranging from central storage of goods in Babylonia to meat distribution in band-level hunters. Earle advocates separating leveling mechanisms from institutional mechanisms, where institutionalized redistribution involves wealth accumulation and political transmission between elites across broad regions in the mode of peer-polity interaction (Earle 1997).

Andean political economy

Stanish (2003: 21) expands on Polanyi's system by describing political economy in the prehispanic Andes with deferred reciprocity taking the form of competitive feasting and political support (Hayden 1995;Stanish 2003: 21). Stanish observes that while there was an implicit or explicit (Service 1975) evolutionary sequence going from reciprocity to redistribution and finally to markets, more recent evidence suggests that these modes can co-occur and that the relationships are too complex to collapse into a single sequence.

Types of reciprocity

Sahlins (1972: 194-195) further elaborated on aspects of Polanyi's reciprocal mode with generalized, negative, and balanced reciprocity. Generalized and negative reciprocity are opposite ends of a continuum (see Figure 2-1, above). Generalized reciprocity refers to sharing, altruism, and Malinowski's "pure gift", while negative reciprocity is the attempt to maximize personal gain from the transaction through haggling or theft (Sahlins 1972: 195-196). Polanyi's basic modes of exchange have persisted in economic anthropology for almost fifty years. Some argue that Polanyi's modes of exchange are limiting in that they do not provide a means to analyze precapitalist commercial activity (Smith 2004: 84), however the benefit to Polanyi's exchange modes is that they are sufficiently general to be comparable cross-culturally and the three modes are discrete enough to be, in some cases, archaeologically distinguishable. Furthermore, if commercial activity is unlikely in the study region, as in the prehispanic south-central Andes, Polanyi's modes capture the necessarily economic variability.

Geographical characteristics

Renfrew (1975) considers trade as interaction between communities in terms of both energy and information exchange. Renfrew (1975: 8) tabulated Polanyi's schema as follows







No Central Place





Central Place

Central Organization


Table 2-3. Characteristics of reciprocity and redistribution (from Renfrew 1975: 8).

Renfrew follows with an exploration of the greater efficiency implied by central place organization in terms of material and information exchange. The universality of central place organization in the development of complex political organization worldwide has been called into question in pastoral settings. In the south-central Andes, anthropologists have proposed that alterative paths to complex social organization could have been pursued by distributed communities linked by camelid caravans with the anticipated central place hierarchy not occurring until relatively late, as proposed by Dillehay and Nuñez (1988) and in a different form by Browman (1981).

Renfrew has developed a graphical representation of the spatial relationships implied by each mode of exchange.


Figure 2-2. Modes of exchange from Renfrew (1975:520) showing human agents as squares, commodities as circles, exchange as an 'X', and boundaries as a dashed line.

The exchange modes depicted by Renfrew (1975:520), shown in Figure 2-2, efficiently convey the variety in organization represented by exchange relationships. In some regions of the world, such as the prehispanic south-central Andes, market-based economies are not believed to have operated which modifies one's expectations for the activities of traders. The full suite of these ten modes is not expected in any one particular archaeological context worldwide, but the figure serves to underscore the complexity of isolating particular types of exchange based on archaeological evidence. Furthermore, these modes are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as some of these modes may have been operating simultaneously unless restrictions on production, circulation, or consumption of goods were in place.

Exchange network structures

Based on geographer Peter Haggett's (1966) work, network configurations can be used to describe the characteristics of interaction that resulted in the distribution and circulation of goods. In describing Andean caravan transport, Nielsen (2000: 73-74, 91) uses the following terms: (1) distance that goods are transported; (2) segmentary vs. continuous - in segmentary networks a given node is connected to a small number of other nodes, while continuous networks each node is connected to all other nodes; (3) convergent (focalized) vs. divergent (non-focalized) - in convergent networks the individuals participating in exchange, and the goods they transport, tend to concentrate in a small number of central places or exchange locales.

Reciprocal exchange relationships that take the form of down-the-line trade may be described as continuous networks when these mechanisms serve to move goods between ethnic groups and across regions. Centralized political control by elites and true market mechanisms might result in network convergence at central places (Smith 1976). To Nielsen's third set of terms, convergent (focalized), divergent (non-focalized), one may add diffusive to describe the pattern of a single type of item radiating from the center to the surrounding region as occurs with obsidian.

Figure 2-3. Network configurations.

These network configurations serve to draw attention to the limitations of using raw material distributions as a proxy for all exchange behaviors. Obsidian exchange is sometimes used by archaeologists as gauge of the volume, frequency, and structure of prehistoric exchange relationships. As noted by Clark (2003), raw materials from geological sources diffuse continuously from a single point to the region, presumably following trade routes, until the materials are found deposited at archaeological consumption sites. In contrast, much exchange between complementary groups, such as between agriculturalists and pastoralists, is non-focalized and often segmentary, as it links producers and consumers through a variety of localized articulation methods. The structural differences between diffusive exchange networks and regular, household-level interaction are well demonstrated in mountain regions with distinct ecological zonation, such as the Andes.

Archaeological inferences that do not differentiate the expectations of one network configuration from another are problematic. Often, diffusive configurations will have evidence of the transport of goods in the opposite direction, as one might expect in system where obsidian is acquired through reciprocity-based relationships. However, the pattern where goods are reciprocated to the source area is a configuration model to be tested rather than one that can be assumed.

2.2.5. Exchange and social distance

As discussed by Robin Torrence (1986: 5), exchange is not directly observable but requires interpretation of the evidence found in consumption sites and in the initial procurement and production areas for artifacts.

Figure 2-4. Model for inference about prehistoric exchange (from Torrence 1986: 5).

Seldom does the act of exchange leave direct evidence of having occurred in a particular location, and the activity must be inferred from the circumstances surrounding production, exchange, and consumption of the product. Note that "Acquisition" (Figure 2-4), or the source area for a product, links directly to all other modes except discard and re-use. In other words, as observed by Torrence, quarry areas are in a unique position for investigating a complete exchange system because it is only "Acquisition" at the quarry area that articulates in some form with most of the major nodes in the Figure 2-4 conceptual model.

When archaeologists encounter non-local materials in their studies, there are commonly three alternative interpretations for this evidence of contact: (1) migration, (2) trade or exchange, (3) conquest by a non-local group. Differentiating these forms of contact from archaeological consumption data can be difficult, and a larger view of the context of exchange is required.

In the 1970s when exchange studies were being widely discussed by archaeologists, two principal approaches were adopted: (1) The system-level view, presented by Renfrew and his associates (1969;1972;1975), and, (2) the political or social view of trade relations (Adams 1974;Friedman and Rowlands 1978;Kohl 1975;Tourtellot and Sabloff 1972) that became more prominent in the 1980s. The systems-oriented approach integrates data into a comprehensive framework, but it is weakened by gradualistic and adaptationist underpinnings as it is

...assumed to have a smoothly, internal inevitability of its own... however it is absurd to think of this as the path that at least the more complex societies have normally followed. They dominate the weaker neighbors, coalesce, suffer themselves from varying forms and degrees of predation, develop and break off patterns of symbiosis - all in dizzyingly abrupt shifts (Adams 1974: 249).

As more recent, agent-centered analyses argue, exchange is a dimension of society that is particularly susceptible to the ambitions of entrepreneurs or aspiring elites because expressions of non-local association and alliance are one manner in which social differentiation can be achieved (Appadurai 1986:38;Clark and Blake 1994;Wiessner 2002: 233).

Exchange across boundaries

Anthropological accounts relate that acquiring resources through trade with neighbors is sometimes a dangerous undertaking that is maybe not far removed from raiding and warfare. "There is a link, a continuity, between hostile relations and the provision of reciprocal prestations. Exchanges are peacefully resolved wars, and wars are the result of unsuccessful transactions" (Lévi-Strauss 1969: 67). Further, Sahlins (1972) observes that reciprocity in trade between unrelated exchange partners in contexts without overarching political control can be a very delicate affair because sometimes it is only the perception of fairness in the exchange that maintains peace.

When people meet who owe each other nothing yet presume to gain from each other something, peace of trade is the great uncertainty. In the absence of external guarantees, as of a Sovereign Power, peace must be otherwise secured: by extension of sociable relations to foreigners - thus, the trade-friendship or trade-kinship - and, most significantly, by the terms of the exchange itself (Sahlins 1972: 302, emphasis in the original).

Yet exchange and markets across boundary areas are common features in world history. Such exchange could consist of "border mechanisms" with trade-partnerships or fictive-kin ties that permit "interactions across tribal boundaries under conditions of peace and personal security" (Harding 1967: 165). Zones between social groups are particularly likely to have active trade and markets if there is some cultural or ecological variation between the groups, such that the products circulating in each zone complement one another (Hodder and Orton 1976: 76). The No-man's-land described as the "Intertribal sector" by Sahlins (1965;1972: 196-204) is a good locale for such exchange because complementary products are available for exchange, and because the morality of exchange in neutral geographical territories permits balanced or negative reciprocity between traders. In perception of value, as well as geography, these border zones can be conceived as overlapping social "spheres of interaction" as described by Barth, where "entrepreneurs will direct their activity preeminently towards those points in an economic system where the discrepancies of evaluation are greatest, and will attempt to construct bridging transactions which can exploit those discrepancies" (Barth 1967: 171). These discussions of the details and great the variability in entrepreneurial strategy anticipate the challenges of an agent-based approach to ancient trade (Adams 1974: 243;Hodder 1982).

Exchange and social distance

The question of the isolation of producers and traders from consumers also connects theories about exchange with the issue of the physical form of the exchange goods. Archaeologists investigating the role of stone artifacts in prehistoric economies observe that lithic manufacture is a subtractive technology as stone artifacts always get smaller with use and maintenance. The degree of reduction of stone material at a lithic source determines the kinds of forms that subsequent artifacts will take.

Jonathon Ericson (1984) applies Sahlins' concept of a continuum of social distance in exchange relationships, discussed above, to the directional, reductive nature of lithic production systems. He explores the idea that the degree of lithic reduction that may occur could be reduced when social distance increases because the producer would have less information about the consumer and the end forms that material will take (Ericson 1984: 6). For example, if the procurer does not know if the nodule will be formed into bifacial lancoleate knife or a triangular projectile point by the consumer, it would be better to leave the nodule in a larger form.

Exchange partners can be slow to respond to changes in the needs of consumers in a given exchange system (Ericson 1984: 6;Harding 1967;Rappaport 1967;Spence 1982), and the effects of social distance can impact production, exchange, or consumption patterns. The implications of social distance for lithic reduction are that, as a subtractive process, reduction circumscribes the potential artifact forms that a nodule of raw material may take in the future. Countering this tendency, people can reduce risk in tool production by producing blanks closer to the source of a raw material where the value of a material is lessened and the costliness of knapping error or breakage, and inconsistent or poor-quality material, is reduced. Stylistically, producers may wish to impart a local motif to the material; alternately, in order to maximize distributive potential, a good may be left in a minimally reduced form.

The exotic and value creation

Non-local exchange goods are prominent in anthropological models of socio-political change because exchange goods can accrue value directly as a function of scarcity, labor input, or through social and symbolic reference. As discussed above under the subject of practical goods and prestige goods, a given object may move between practical and prestige categories in different places, times, and social contexts. The availability of an item in a given milieu communicates not only the relative scarcity but, for alienable goods, the exchange value of that item; such items may also contain allusions to distant regions, social groups, and esoteric knowledge.

Theoretical models assert that in order for sacredness or exotic power to be conferred through possession of non-local goods, those goods cannot be widely available or mutable in economic circles accessible to just anyone (Clark and Blake 1994;Goldstein 2000). The possession and circulation of these goods have also been considered as part of a network strategy, distinct from a corporate strategy, towards acquiring influence and leadership (Blanton, et al. 1996). These goods may have served as indicators of long-distance association for trade and alliance, and also have served as a means of differentiation during this time of incipient political competition. In another approach, one that focuses on differential reproductive success, Craig and Aldenderfer (in press) use costly-signaling theory in a formal, biological adaptationist framework to model the development of social inequalities through the differential use of obsidian in southern Peru at the Archaic and Formative transition. Exotic materials have been used to demarcate commonplace from supernatural referents, or are at least part of a constellation of behavior and objects that signal status difference.

A pattern noted frequently by archaeologists is that close to the source of a raw material there is no distinction associated with the commodity as the item is abundant, whereas farther from the source, where access is intermittent, the possession of such commodities may acquire greater symbolic importance (Knapp 1990: 161;Renfrew 1986). It follows that if one moves from a place where a product is scarce and found in ritual contexts, towards the source of that product such that it becomes less scarce, one may observe a reduction in ritual or exclusive association for that group of goods. This theme will be considered with obsidian use in the Lake Titicaca region.

Furthermore, what of those who transport exotic goods? Mary Helms argues that "we should consider long-distance travelers or contact agents as political-religious specialists, and include them in the company of shamans, priests, and priestly chiefs and kings as political-ideological experts or 'heroes' who contact cosmically distant realms and obtain politically and ideologically useful materials therefrom" (1992: 159). These agents are in a position to benefit, in an entrepreneurial way from the value difference, between the source and the consumption zone, but in many cultural contexts their participation and social roles appear to be circumscribed. The association of non-local goods with status or prestige, long-distance alliance or esoteric knowledge is contingent on a variety of factors upon which it is difficult to generalize, but one can examine these archaeologically through artifact form and context.

2.2.6. Territoriality and access to raw material sources

Exchange and social distance have particular configurations when they occur in contexts of unusual raw materials. The spatial dependence of procurement, distribution, and consumption on access to particular source locations creates a context where social distance may correspond directly with procurement and consumption patterns. There is broad cross-cultural variation worldwide in territoriality and access to raw material sources. The effort and the benefits associated with territorial circumscription and resource control are frequently considered in the context of specialized production. Resource control has been discussed for circumstances where competition for a resource can lead to an attempt to "monopolize" access (Torrence 1986: 40-42). Following formal economic principles, the value of a good should be a function of its availability where value would escalate as a result of restricted access and limited supply (Brumfiel and Earle 1987: 7), a process that has been proposed for shell bead exchange among the Chumash of California (Arnold 1991). The variety of territorial control strategies documented worldwide invites a broader consideration of the diverse boundary negotiations that may have been occurring at a raw material source through prehistory.

Territoriality and resource procurement among foragers and pastoralists is a topic that has been explored in anthropology in recent years (Cashdan 1983;Casimir and Rao 1992;Kelly 1995). Approaches range from ecological models based in optimal foraging theory and site catchment analysis, to organizational models that include perimeter defense and social boundary demarcation, and finally to process-oriented models that consider the effects of sedentism, circumscription and population pressure. Carolyn Dillian (2002: 95-116) reviews the issue of territoriality and obsidian procurement using more contemporary theory.

California multiethnic access

One possible arrangement is multiethnic procurement at a geological source. Ericson (1982: 136) describes a situation in California's Napa Valley where the Saint Helena obsidian source fell within the territory of the Wappo ethnic group and the Wappo were, in turn, surrounded by the Lake Miwok, Coast Miwok, Wintun and Pomo groups (Kroeber 1925). It is reported that in exchange for obsidian, the Wappo received items such as bows, beads, shells, mats, fish, headbands, and clams (Davis 1961), but it is not known if extraction was conducted by the local Wappo or through direct access by the surrounding groups themselves. Ericson (1984: 7) reviews evidence of multiethnic access to lithic sources. In California there are a number of distinctive obsidian sources that have been studied. At some areas the quarry management was "tribal but related and nearby groups had the right to quarry either freely or on the payment of small gifts. Wars resulted from attempts by some distant tribes to use a quarry without payment. On the other hand, the Clear Lake obsidian quarries were neutral ground" (Bryan 1950: 34).

The Wintun of California practiced round-trip fasting when traveling to obsidian sources (Dubois 1935). A functional interpretation of this behavior from Ericson (1984: 7) is that fasting would avert exhaustion of resources around much-visited obsidian sources. A regionally important quarry could conceivably get so much use, with many groups exploiting the source, that the ecology of the source area catchment would get depleted.

Geochemical studies of obsidian artifacts in California have revealed a concordance between obsidian distributions, as shown by chemical studies, and the geographical boundaries of ethnographically documented cultural groups (Bettinger 1982;Hughes and Bettinger 1984;Luhnow 1997). Dillian (2002: 294-297) found that despite ethnographic accounts of Karok direct procurement at the Glass Mountain source in Modoc territory, the knapping evidence at the source suggests that local Modoc were conducting virtually all of the reduction on site and then exchanging with neighboring tribes where it was widely circulated.

Other Source Areas

The well-known red pipestone quarry in Minnesota "was held and owned in common, and as a neutral group" (Holmes 1919: 262). In the Western Desert of Australia, Gould et al. (1971) report that chert and chalcedony sources themselves are not held through a concept of quarry ownership. All material of usably good knapping quality is equally valued, and knapping is not a skill that is assigned great importance. However, an important totemic affiliation exists between a person and stone from the region in which they were born. Cherts from a person's ancestral region are sometimes visually distinct and therefore materials of a particular region will be sought and transported over long distances as a physical link to those regions.

These preferences appear to be a reflection of the close totemic ties each man has to the particular region in which he was born and from which he claims totemic descent. Thus, a man may have a sense of kinship with some of these localities, and he will value the stone material from them as a part of his own being. Stone materials thus acquired are not sacred in any strict sense but are nevertheless valued highly enough to be transported over long distances by owners (Gould, et al. 1971: 161-162).

Ideological and emotive links to raw material are a consideration in human activities around source areas. Social and symbolic restrictions on quarries have also been documented ethnographically in New Guinea (Burton 1984;McBryde 1984). In terms of exchange behaviors, quarry areas present special problems and opportunities for archaeologists. One of the principal difficulties with examining ethnicity and access to quarries is correlating archaeological evidence with social and symbolic behavior associated with quarries. Some theoretical models are contingent on measuring evidence of maximization and control of production at quarry areas, and these models are often contingent on the detection of boundaries and restricted access based on material evidence (Torrence 1986). Unfortunately, as demonstrated by some of the studies above, many social and symbolic limitations on quarry access leave no direct material correlates and can be extremely difficult to detect archaeologically.

2.2.7. Discussion

While formal and substantivist economics have been used to investigate regional interaction and exchange worldwide, this dissertation research follows on the substantivist tradition in Andean archaeology. The exchange issues explored above can be summarized in following three themes.

Exchange value

Exchange from the perspective of commodity 'exchangeability' and demand by consumers is a cross-culturally comparable (and often archaeologically detectable) means of assessing value, but this approach depends on the goods actually circulating. Others have observed that some inalienable objects (heirlooms) are valued precisely because they do not circulate, and the ability of an object to "accumulate history" is another means of establishing value albeit a measure that is difficult to establish archaeologically.

Social distance

The continuum of social distance is useful in that it captures the role of different behavior and institutions in exchange as one moves away from the household, and it may parallel formal models of kin selection. Further, the concepts of production and social distance for a commodity like obsidian can be empirically linked to expectations about the degree of lithic reduction as one moves from production to consumption contexts. The use of the social distance concept to position a diachronic, "primitive" household (substantive) exchange against a synchronic, "modern" and commercialized (formal) realm is a problematic and false dichotomy. Virtually all exchange contexts contain elements of both social contracts and economical behavior. Social distance, territoriality, and access to products can be manifested in a variety of ways that range from the organization of technology, socially circumscribed access, and symbolic restrictions; a situation that poses difficulties for archaeologists attempting to establish the relative accessibility of a particular product prehistorically.

Social and political consequences of exchange

Exchange is a mechanism that brings goods and people together between ecological zones and across social boundaries, and exchange creates strategic opportunities for individuals and institutions. Exchange is sometimes used to reinforce status differences because the possession of exotic goods, and the necessary surplus to acquire non-local products, differentially favors those with established regional ties. However exchange across boundaries, along with warfare and ritual, can be dangerous and may be the domain of strategic and opportunistic individuals as traffic in the exotic, and contact with foreign elements, is liable to challenge the social order. Conversely, one of the often-noted social consequences of regular exchange is more mundane: exchange serves to reinforce long distance social ties over time, to buffer risk, and to express cohesiveness through common access to distinct resources.

In recent decades, exchange studies in archaeology have acquired new technical rigor with advances in chemical proveniencing. While the cultural, institutional, and theoretical ramifications of exchange remain complex and nuanced, the demonstrable fact of chemical characterization offers refreshing certainty to the otherwise conditional and qualified study of ancient exchange.

2.3. Chemical provenience and exchange

In the early twentieth century archaeologists investigated prehistoric exchange, primarily by using stylistic criteria, in order to demonstrate contact between two culture areas from a diffusionist perspective. Modern studies of exchange through scientific sourcing began with the work of Anna O. Shepard (1956) who found that petrographic analysis of ceramic tempers could be used to differentiate ceramic types. Since Shepard's early work, methods for chemically characterizing artifacts has grown rapidly (Glascock 2002). By the late 1960s, with geochemical evidence for long-distance interaction accumulating worldwide, archaeologists began developing systematic approaches to evaluating exchange.

The fundamental issue for many archaeological studies of exchange is that exchange processes have social evolutionary consequences (see Section 2.2.3 ). In current debates over the role of exchange, theoretical approaches range from those premised on looking at efficiency in production and exchange, and those approaches that focus on the role of social dynamics and agency models for long-distance relationships.

2.3.1. Quantitative approaches to regional exchange

An influential approach to long-distance exchange was developed by Colin Renfrew and his colleagues (Renfrew, et al. 1968) who asserted that the spatial distributions of a raw material like obsidian could be used to infer not only extent of interaction, but mode of exchange. In subsequent investigations these distance decay relationships were further explored and in 1977 Renfrew defined the Law of Monotonic Decrement (LMD):

In circumstances of uniform loss or deposition, and in the absence of highly organized directional (i.e., preferential, nonhomogeneous) exchange, the curve of frequency or abundance of occurrence of an exchanged commodity against effective distance from a localized source will be a monotonic decreasing one (Renfrew 1977: 72).

Here, and in other publications, Renfrew (1975;1977) and Hodder (1974;1978;Hodder and Orton 1976), sought to interpret exchange relationships and the friction of distance from the shape of "fall-off curves" where the abundance of material is plotted against cost, usually distance from the source. The novelty in this approach is that it sought to determine "types" of exchange that substantive anthropologists had placed in evolutionary sequence using explicit, formalist measures of abundance and cost. These distance decay graphs included "Down-the-line" exchange thought to represent reciprocity, "freelance" trade representing barter, and even laissez-faire capitalism. More general and robust characterizations were described as well. For example, low value, often cumbersome goods were shown to have different distance decay profiles than prestige-goods exchange (Hodder 1974;Hodder and Orton 1976: 124).

Other scholars adopted this approach and in places like Mesoamerica the method held promise because obsidian sources were abundant, and material from many sources were, for the most part, visually distinct (Braswell, et al. 2000). Raymond Sidrys developed a "Trade Index" that, he argued, showed that major ceremonial centers acquired obsidian in volume from greater distances.


Figure 2-5. Log-Log fall-off curve of obsidian density (grams of obsidian/m3 of fill). Line 1 is a regression line derived from major ceremonial centers while line 2 is derived from minor centers (Sidrys 1976: 454).

The axes of the fall-off graphs are on linear, power or logarithmic scales. Depending on the data available, interaction can be measured by using absolute or relative measures. Abundance of a non-local good at site A is assessed in absolute terms using weight of material from site A divided by estimated population for site A, or abundance is measured in relative terms using percentage by weight or artifact count from site A in the total raw material class for that site (Earle 1977: 6;Renfrew 1977: 73).

In his work with Neolithic Near Eastern obsidian Renfrew (1969: 157) specifies that areas less than 300 km from the geological source area, at least for Neolithic modes of exchange, are in the "supply zone" because obsidian represents over 80% of the material in lithic assemblages at sites found in that zone. Areas beyond the 300 km band Renfrew refers to as the "contact zone" and it is in that area that he argued the shape and angle of the fall-off curve could provide insights into prehistoric economy. The "interaction zone", or universe of study, for a sourceable material was defined by Renfrew to be the area within which 30% or more of the obsidian was derived from a single obsidian source. A similar approach was taken with Mesoamerican obsidian in the Oaxaca area by Jane Wheeler Pires-Ferreira (1976: 301) but in this case a 20% threshold was used to define the interaction zone. There appears to be no ethnographic basis for the source, contact, or interaction zone threshold values used by Renfrew and others.

In the course of further exploration of the parameters associated with fall-off curves, serious weaknesses were identified that limit their utility for identifying forms of exchange solely on the basis of the shape of the curve. Hodder (1974;1978;Hodder and Orton 1976: 127-154) simulated a large number of simple random walks and found that generally similar fall-off curves could be produced by different combinations of variables, a condition known as equifinality. In other words, a Gaussian artifact distribution that results in a fall-off curve that Renfrew would have described as "down-the-line exchange" could as have been the result of random walks. Hodder and Orton (1976: 142-143) found that the more convex curves have higher a values and that these are the result of a greater number of short steps usually associated with highly portable value goods. Ammerman et al. (1978: 181-184) explored the fall-off curve with simulation studies and found that in the interpretation of down-the-line models one must consider the accumulated effects of time over the long-term. Further, they argue that accumulation rates in archaeological studies of down-the-line systems can modeled by using realistic estimates of "passing" and "dropping" of artifacts in distribution systems. Critical evaluations of the utility of fall-off curves demonstrate that Renfrew's goal of distinguishing reciprocity, redistribution, and market exchange from two-dimensional graphs was overambitious. It has been shown, however, that the relative shape of fall-off curves can aid in differentiating high value commodities from bulky, utilitarian goods. These graphs are valuable for highlighting variations from the LMD, and these deviations can point towards avenues for further data exploration. Hodder and Orton (1976: 155-160) suggest applying trend surface analysis to distribution data, an approach that was implemented in the 1970s raster-based computer mapping package SYMAP. Trend surface analysis and geostatistics have become considerably easier using modern GIS methods.

2.3.2. Other Distance Decay studies

Approaches to the study of attenuation with distance were applied in a variety of other regions worldwide, and these studies have been ably summarized by Torrence (1986: 10-37). A valuable theme in these studies has been the exploration of deviations from Renfrew's Law of Monotonic Decrement, and suggestions for improvement of distance decay models. Gary Wright (1970) proposes that predictions made by the LMD could be improved by controlling for variations in consumption through time and between types of consumer sites, and he emphasizes that investigators consider the influence of alternative materials in the study area, such as the effects of local flint on demand for imported obsidian. Wright (1970;Wright and Grodus 1969: 47-52) also advocates using weight of a non-local good as a measure of abundance, rather than count or percentage of each artifact class. For time periods prior to the domestication of beasts of burden in the Near East, when the weight of artifacts was borne directly by human carriers, weight would more likely influence behavior and discard patterns. Renfrew also considers weight in his analysis, but he observes that weight would be influenced by stylistic and functional factors.

Geographical relationships are considered in more detail in subsequent research. Jonathon Ericson (1977;1977;1981;1982) conducted an exhaustive study of California obsidian distributions and, by focusing on deviations from the LMD, and using regression analysis, he was able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. Ericson uses trend surface analysis available in the early raster-based mapping system SYMAP to produce maps showing isometric distributions of obsidian types in consumption sites (Ericson 1977: Figures 1-4). In comparing this form of analysis with Renfrew's distance decay graph distributions Ericson states that "in two-dimensional analysis only the magnitude of an observation and its distance from a source is considered, the spatial position of the observation is not considered in its local context; and this simplification masks significant variability in the data" (Ericson 1977: 110). Ericson's density maps demonstrate that, while distance from source is a primary determinant of obsidian type, the distributions of obsidian consumption locations are not symmetrical around the source areas. Ericson explores the spatial relationships by superimposing trail systems, alternative material distributions, and ethnolinguistic group boundaries (Kroeber 1925) on the obsidian consumption density maps and finds that these spatial phenomena influence obsidian distributions.

Similar to Ericson's implementation of trend surface analysis, Findlow and Bolognese (1982: 60-70) perform a SYMAP analysis using the percentage of lithic assemblages represented by obsidian throughout their study region. Their maps are useful in that they show the changing territoriality and direction of obsidian procurement through time in the region. However, as their obsidian percentage isolines only display aggregated obsidian versus not obsidian data, and do not differentiate between source types of obsidian, the maps are difficult to interpret in terms of exchange distances from the sources through time.

Quantitative data available for Ericson's (1977: 121-123;1977: 249-257) analysis include isotropic distance calculations between discard locations and geological source areas, and estimated population by consumption area. A multiple linear regression analysis using the percentage of obsidian from a single source showed that, as stated by the LMD, the distance from the source had the highest predictive power. However, the estimated population in a given consumption area had only slightly less power in predicting the source of the obsidian being used than did distance to the closest source, and the distance to the second closest obsidian source had virtually no predictive power. Ericson interprets these data in terms of the degree of utilitarian use of a commodity and level of necessity for the average person in the community. Thus, in the proximity of the geological source of a raw material widely used in the community, the source types with high population levels in the immediate vicinity of the source would have been more widely used in exchange systems (Ericson 1977: 120).

An improvement in the calculation of effective distance with an incorporation of the influence of topographic relief in the cost accumulation with fall-off curves was first explored by Findlow and Bolognese (1980;1982). In their study in the U.S. Southwest the authors manually develop the linear solutions known today in GIS as "Least-cost paths" or, as Findlow and Bolognese (1980: 239) express it, "the line between the site and the source that at once minimized distance and topographic relief". They find that when these paths are used in the cost function then variability is accounted for more strongly than when using an isotropic distance estimate.

The technology of transport can dramatically alter the effective distance, and changes in mode of transportation have been proposed as explanations for variability in distance decay curves through time (Hodder and Orton 1976: 113,117-118;Renfrew 1977: 73). Torrence (1986: 122-123) reviews the issue and she also discusses boat transport (1986: 135-136). The adoption of river and sea-going vessels in Mesoamerica are discussed by Sidrys (1977: 103-105), and in the Mediterranean by Ammerman (1979;1978). Gary Wright (1970) mentions the importance of considering the weight of transported material for the period before the domestication of cargo animals and the availability of caravan trade networks in the Near East. Similarly, working in the Andes, Richard Burger and his co-authors (2000: 348) consider the impact of camelid domestication and llama caravan networks on obsidian distributions.

The prediction, following the LMD, that artifact size or weight should diminish with distance from the source area (Wright 1969: 47-52;Wright 1970;Wright and Grodus 1969) is not necessarily supported in cases where the form of the artifact, such as projectile points or bladelets, take precedence over effective distance from source. Angela Close (1999) found that at early Neolithic sites in southwestern Egypt flint backed bladelets, even very close to the source, were produced to be very narrow due to hafting requirements, defying the prediction of LMD. Close (1999) also found that among the late Neolithic sites unretouched, unbroken flint debitage did not conform to the LMD either, a situation that she attributes to the probable use of domestic cattle in transporting flint cores (Close 1996). With formal tools, such as projectile points, artifact form may take precedence over size. Hofman (1991) found with Folsom points that did not diminish in size with distance from the raw material source. However, incidence of resharpening can be expect to increase with distance from the source, affecting tool size (Andrefsky 1994).

The gravity model was another approach borrowed from geography and applied to the study of regional artifact distributions (Chappell 1986;Hallam, et al. 1976;Hodder 1974;Renfrew 1977: 87-88). Gravity models are used in situations where artifacts made from raw materials from a number of competing sources are found in a given consumption site. The claim is that the approach quantifies the "attractiveness" of a given material type over other types available to the consumers in a site by comparing actual proportions with expected proportions of the material given the predictions of the LMD. However, as Torrence (1986: 27) observes, "in reality, the gravity model is merely a means for describing and comparing distributions which are already reasonably well documented." While gravity models could be useful in parsing complex temporal patterns in raw material use in production and consumption at a given site, the approach does not provide a means of inferring the character of exchange relationships between consumption sites in prehistory.

Throughout the 1970s, the regional exchange literature shows an increasing awareness of the limitations of a purely spatial approach to inferring modes of exchange through formal geographical regression analysis. Renfrew's ambitious models linking geographical distance-decay with substantive modes of exchange connected to an associated evolutionary socio-political level, were meant to be sufficiently general to operate through time and in different cultural contexts. However, from simulation studies and from archaeological applications, researchers observed that it was necessary to incorporate supplementary information along with the geographical data on long-distance exchange and consumption, in order for distance decay studies to be useful. The view that chemically derived exchange data must be considered in association with information about archaeological context was first expressed by Wright (1969) and was widely echoed in the contributions to Ericson and Earle's (1982) volume "Contexts for Prehistoric Exchange" as well as in later volumes on exchange including Ericson and Baugh (1993) and Baugh and Ericson (1994). Preserving the strengths of geographical analyses from the 1970s period of investigation and combined with a greater consideration of artifact form, regional variation in reduction strategies and site-specific contexts of consumption, offers a fruitful way forward.

2.3.3. Site-oriented studies of exchange

As obsidian moved farther from its source, the size of the pieces traded progressively decreased and the relative value increased. ...Small blades were obtained simply by smashing a large block with a stone, while in time blades were broken into smaller fragments to obtain newly sharp edges (Harding 1967: 42).

Establishing consistent links between the types of social structure and the forms and organization of production in association with exchange was the approach taken by Ericson (1982) and, most explicitly, by Torrence (1986). By investigating the standardization and error rates in blade reduction strategies at obsidian production sites on the Greek island of Melos, Torrence was able to evaluate the degree of specialization involved in the quarrying and production of obsidian at the source.

In her review of archaeological site-oriented studies of exchange, Torrence (1986: 27-37) uses a few major themes to characterize site-oriented investigations. These themes include measures of abundance, source composition percentages, and the variability in archaeological context and artifactual form of import.

Measures of abundance

Investigators have compared changes in the abundance of non-local material with domestic goods that are assumed to represent population. The ratio of the weight of obsidian to volume of excavated dirt (as shown in Figure 2-5) or as a ratio of weight of ceramics (as a proxy measure for population) has been used in a number of studies in Mesoamerica (Sidrys 1976;Zeitlin and Heimbuch 1978: 189). In studies of Near Eastern obsidian exchange Renfrew (1969;1977) develops indices for the presence of obsidian based on counts and weights per phase and per excavated cubic meter, and he also uses the count of obsidian artifacts as a percent of the total lithic assemblage count. Renfrew qualifies his conclusions due to a lack of consistency in the data, but he estimates that the total quantity of to arrive at the site was relatively small and he observes a decrease in obsidian at Deh Luran sites. Working at the Olmec site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Cobean et al. (1971) develop an index that compared the number of obsidian flakes, blades, and total debitage with grinding stones and slabs for each phase at the site, with the abundance of grinding equipment serving as an estimate of number of households. The authors interpret the increasing index of obsidian to grinding slabs as evidence of a gradual rise in "prosperity" for individuals at the site, though they only briefly explore the implications for changing exchange relationships (Cobean, et al. 1991).

In Torrence's examination of the aforementioned studies she concludes that "the major difficulty with studies of consumption based on measures of resource abundance is that they lack the necessary linking arguments between patterns of consumption and type of exchange" (1986: 28-30). She states that what is needed for site-level studies of abundance and exchange is "a series of arguments describing how resource use will respond to specific types of exchange" akin to the explicit connections that Renfrew developed on the regional scale between distance decay and forms of exchange.

Site level composition from multiple sources

When raw material is available to consumers from several competing sources, investigators have used the relative quantity of materials from the different sources at individual sites to gain insights into ancient exchange. Broad exchange relationships are frequently inferred from the presence of obsidian from a distant source. When material from several rival obsidian sources are represented, either strongly or weakly, in different phases at a site, the cause of the changes in representation is often attributed to shifts in the geography of regional political or economic relationships. Geographical explanations are invoked when there is a clear deviation from the LMD, and yet evidence of significant in-situ political change is not found in investigations among studies in Mesoamerica (Zeitlin 1978: 202;Zeitlin 1982) and the Near East (Renfrew 1977: 308-309).

Changes in the mechanisms of exchange, rather than simply geography, are attributed to changes in the source composition from different sources when socio-political changes are perceived by investigators. Studies have inferred redistribution occurring when sites that act as central places (Christaller 1966 [1933]) at the top of the settlement hierarchy have disproportionate quantities of non-local materials irrespective of their distance from the source. This phenomenon has been discussed for Tikal (Moholy-Nagy 1976: 101-103;Sidrys 1977).

When sourcing studies are conducted at the scale of the household unit, though it is often labor intensive and costly to conduct proveniencing studies to an extent that are statistically meaningful, it is possible to discern convergence patterns that can be connected to exchange mechanisms (Pires-Ferreira and Flannery 1976;Santley 1984;Torrence 1986: 35). The most common application of evidence of variability between households in source composition is to infer redistribution from the presence of low inter-household variability in source composition.

In a reciprocal economy where individual households negotiate for their own obsidian, we would expect a good deal of variation between households, both in the sources used and the proportions of obsidian from various sources. Conversely, in an economy where the flow of obsidian is controlled by an elite or by important community leaders, who pool incoming obsidian for later distribution to their relatives, affines, or fellow villagers, we would expect less variation and more uniformity from one household to another (Winter and Pires-Ferreira 1976: 306).

The concept is been depicted in a graphic from.


Table 2-4. Household composition of raw materials should vary with different types of exchange. On the left, individual households acquire source materials more directly, on the right pooling and redistribution results in greater inter-household consistency in raw material composition (Winter and Pires-Ferreira 1976: 311).

This approach was influential in Mesoamerica (Clark and Lee 1984;Santley 1984;Spence 1981;Spence 1982;Spence 1984 ) where the technology of transport did not change significantly except for perceived changes in the form of boat technology. Transport changes could significantly impact the inter-household diversity of source composition in places, such as the Near East, where caravan exchange networks followed from the domestication of pack animals (Wright 1969). The impacts of caravan exchange on artifact variability has long been discussed in the Andes (Dillehay and Nuñez 1988;Nuñez and Dillehay 1995 [1979]), although household-level sourcing data has not been available to date.

Variation in site-level contexts and artifact form

Intrasite variability in lithic distributions, and the morphology of those artifacts, can shed light on exchange patterns. Several projects in Mesoamerica have inferred redistribution as the mechanism of exchange when concentrations of non-local lithic materials at major sites point to debris associated with specialist workshops and other kinds of intrasite use of space. Blade manufacturing debris has been used in this manner at Tikal (Moholy-Nagy 1975;Moholy-Nagy 1976;Moholy-Nagy 1991;Moholy-Nagy 1999), the Basin of Mexico (Sanders, et al. 1979), and Teotihuacan (Spence 1967;Spence 1984).

The proportion of artifact forms of a non-local material in a single site has been used to characterize mechanisms of exchange. This approach has proved useful with obsidian exchange in places where distinctive reduction strategies are associated with finished artifact form, such as blade technology, and these strategies can be recognized in lithic material found in consumption sites. Winter and Pires-Ferreira (1976: 309-310), working at two sites in Oaxaca, argued that blades of high quality, non-local obsidian were introduced to the sites in finished form and that this constituted evidence of elite pooling for prismatic blade reduction followed by redistribution to local sites. The higher quality material was transformed into more valuable artifact forms in workshops located outside of their study area, and then in the Oaxaca sites the presence of these artifacts that were apparently the result of contact with elite spheres of exchange, was interpreted as evidence of redistribution of the finished artifacts. The sourcing and exchange work of Pires-Ferreira has come under some criticism because in her initial proveniencing study she only used two diagnostic chemical elements, and more recent analyses suggest that many of her sourcing attributions are incorrect (Clark 2003: 32). Further, Sheets (1978: 62) argues that the edges of prismatic blades are too fragile to have been transported in completed form (Clark and Lee 1984: 272).

Systematic studies of the intrasite contexts and artifact form of non-local material have the potential to provide insights into exchange and social structure. Intrasite spatial patterns can be investigated in combination with both quantitative data stemming from geographical distances and artifact abundance, and with qualitative data inferred from artifact form and technological aspects of production (Torrence 1986: 36). These kinds of intrasite patterns are susceptible to distortion by dumping patterns and intrasite studies must be sensitive to the problems of conflating material from workshop refuse, household middens and construction fill (Moholy-Nagy 1997).

In a useful review of Mesoamerican obsidian studies Clark (2003: 32-39) summarizes major advances in provenience and trade models, and highlights important avenues for improvement. One important observation made by Clark is that in archaeologists' efforts to design systematic approaches to exchange, early studies failed to distinguish "power as energy and power as legitimacy" (Clark 2003: 38). It could be argued that these forms of power are largely comparable, as the ability to procure, display, and redistribute non-local goods demonstrates power in both energy and in prestige. However, as was emphasized by substantivists in their discussion on the inalienability of certain products, the value of particular status items rests precisely in their incommensurate nature.

Sanders and Santley's (1983) proposal that special goods were returned to Teotihuacan in exchange for obsidian products, and that these were cashed in for corn from the fringes of Teotihuacan's domain in hard times, fails to appreciate that once symbolic goods circulate like economic goods among the hoi polloi such goods lose any legitimizing powers (Clark 2003: 38).

A framework for investigating prehistoric exchange must negotiate between these features of the archaeological record. Material evidence of long-distance exchange is abundant and easily measured, but interpreting the significance and perceived value of these non-local products in the social and political context of their consumption is the measurement of greatest relevance to comprehending the role of exchange over time.

2.3.4. Discussion

A period of vigorous exploration of spatial models of exchange followed on the initial availability of chemical characterization methods in the 1960s. In addition to responding to new proveniencing methods, these developments also reflected a convergence between formal analytical models borrowed from quantitative geography (Haggett 1966;Harvey 1969) and the spatial models of processual archaeology in the early 1970s. As the potential and the limitations of the formal geographical approaches have became more evident, archaeologists have been able to take stock of the insights from that period (Bradley and Edmonds 1993: 5-11;Clark 2003: 32-42;Hodder 1982;Torrence 1986: 10-37, 115-138).

Exploration of a variety of promising measures and ratios for regional analysis is one of positive products of these regional distance decay studies. For obsidian distance decay, the ideal analytical situation would involve a variety of metric measures for each artifact, and the chemical type would be known for every artifact of sourcable material. While such detailed analyses have not been generally available, analysts have made do with other measures such as visual assessment of obsidian type (although it is unreliable in many regions) and relative measures of abundance. These measures of abundance include: (1) proportion of obsidian in total lithic assemblage by count or weight, (2) proportion of obsidian flakes to other artifact classes like ground stone or ceramics, and (3) density of obsidian by excavated volume of soil. A variety of additional inventive measures were explored during this period. Further details from consumption contexts, such as variability in material type by spatial and temporal provenience, are important for regional studies, although acquiring consistent and comparable measures from various archaeological projects can be difficult.

Technological innovations promise to lend greater support to both chemical characterization and geographical analyses in coming years. Developments in GIS and other spatial technologies have greatly facilitated the management and analysis of spatial data. An associated technological development is portable chemical characterization devices such as portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) units. It is likely that, in the not-too-distant future, XRF analysis will become a routine part of lab analysis for many archaeological projects (Jeff Speakman, May 2006, pers. comm.), a development that will significantly expand the archaeological significance of quarry studies and geographical relationships between production and consumption locales.

In sum, the confluence of spatial technology with the widespread use of non-destructive chemical characterization methods in archaeology will likely result in the emergence of a rigorous proveniencing and spatial analysis sub-discipline in archaeology in coming years. The foundations of this sub-discipline were explored in the 1970s but with greater refinement in theoretical approaches to exchange and the organization of technology, as well as the issues of artifact variability, and the consumption contexts of exchange, one may expect significant contributions from regional analysis in coming years.

2.4. The View from the Quarry

For over one hundred years archaeologists in the Americas have noted the potential of studying quarries, yet consistency is lacking in the approaches that have been taken, making it difficult to compare quarrying behavior cross-culturally. The principal theoretical objective for quarry studies in many parts of the world is establishing a link between models of social change and the extraction of resources at a give quarry through time. Despite the productive research into quarrying during the early part of the twentieth century, quarries worldwide have received insufficient attention by archaeologists.

Beginning with the pioneering work of William Henry Holmes (1900;1919), archaeologists have recognized that the remains of quarrying and mining have the potential to provide valuable information about the past. Holmes' work was a major contribution as he discussed the broad issues of the geographic locations of known quarries and workshops, artifact manufacture, the quantities of waste material, and the use of fire in quarrying. The sole major component of modern quarry studies that Holmes did not explore was technical flake analysis, which wasn't developed yet, and a discussion of the chronology of the use of the quarries, which was very difficult to achieve prior to radiocarbon dating.

With the development of geochemical sourcing methods during the 1960s that linked materials with certainty to their geological source areas, quarry studies began to be of greater interest. The goal of most quarry studies is, through a combination of evidence from the resource procurement and the consumption contexts, to examine changes through time in the mechanisms of exchange that link the production and consumption together. These mechanisms are believed to reflect the prevailing organization of the stone tool economy.

A central challenge in conducting archaeological research at quarries is that at the typical raw material source, due to the sheer volume of archaeological materials and the variability in procurement contexts in prehistory, it is vital to have a clear research strategy. By targeting research questions and theoretical goals, and then determining the appropriate sampling methods, the abundance of material at a quarry can be approached with a few specific guiding questions to be answered, as well as an eye for new, unanticipated findings. Several researchers have discussed frameworks for studying the ancient quarrying of stone. Torrence describes the rich potential of studying production and exchange from the perspective of the quarry in terms of the unique position of the quarry for the study of a "complete exchange system" (Torrence 1986: 91, see Section 2.2.5).

These frameworks for quarry research fall into three sets of approaches, corresponding roughly to major theoretical groups in archaeology, and most will use a combination of these approaches emphasizing (1) efficiency, (2) social factors, and/or (3) ideology. The theoretical approach taken is often conditioned by the available data. For example, an ideological approach is strongest when demonstrable ethnographic, historical, or archaeological data are available that display a clear ideological basis for behavior concerning the stone tool procurement. Similarly, efficiency and error rates are more measurable from some reduction strategies, like prismatic blade production, and therefore cost minimizing analyses are very fruitful with such data.

2.4.1. The specialization and efficiency framework for quarry studies

The most thoroughly-articulated efficiency model is the one developed by Torrence during her dissertation work on the Greek island of Melos (Torrence 1981;Torrence 1986). Her approach at the obsidian quarries of Melos focuses on lithic reduction sequences in order to detect the changes in morphology of flakes that point to increased specialization due to standardization of reduction strategies. Her goal is to establish "a framework for measuring exchange" by developing a continuum for production efficiency that aims to link particular levels of efficiency with the social correlates that indicate the existence of different forms of exchange. Citing Rathje (1975: 420-430), Torrence approaches the study of long-term changes in the efficiency of extraction and manufacture in terms of sophistication of technology, simplification, standardization, and specialization (Torrence 1986: 42). In her research she is able to establish a continuum of efficiency starting with the irregular, non-specialist production on one end, and high efficiency production characterized by ethnohistorical evidence from modern gunflint knapping, on the other end.

Characteristics of prismatic blade production facilitate the kind of examination for efficiency and specialization used effectively by Torrence. First, core-blade reduction sequences leave relatively visible evidence of the technical stages for archaeological analysis. Secondly, prismatic blades are extremely efficient as measured experimentally using cutting-edge to weight ratios (Sheets and Muto 1972). Finally, archaeologists have developed measures of error rates for obsidian blade production with the aim of establishing the degree of knapping expertise from debitage, and these measures correlate with efficiency gauged in both time and consumption of material (Clark 1997;Sheets 1975). These efficiency measures are relevant in areas with blade production, but they are not applicable to research in areas with exclusively bifacial reduction traditions, such as in the south-central Andes.

The efficiency measures that Torrence develops in her approach linking production with exchange has the advantage of being explicit and comparable across regions. Further, her measures of production efficiency complement the formal assumptions that underlie the fall-off curves used to analyze regional exchange models in an evolutionary approach that projects greater efficiencies in organization through time. That is, specialized blade production is the most efficient means of producing cutting implements, and freelance trade in a market based economy, following Polanyi's schema, is the most efficient means of moving goods to consumers. Efficiency measures have heuristic value, as divergences from expected efficiency models can prompt the pursuit of theoretical inquiries into the cause of the deviance from the anticipated efficiency models.

The most problematic aspect of this framework is the dependence on the theoretical link connecting efficiency measures to prehistoric institutions (Bradley and Edmonds 1993: 10), particularly in light of the substantivist/formalist debate in anthropology specifically referencing gifting and exchange relationships. Bradley and Edmonds (1993: 10) observe that, as with Renfrew's regression approach, the problem of equifinality undermines the system of inference when the principal link between production efficiency and elaborate institutions is reduction evidence from workshops. They question the supposition that larger socio-political structure and evolutionary stages can be reconstructed from the limited perspective of workshop production and regional distribution patterns based largely on consumption sites that often have poor temporal control and few contextual associations.

More recent studies have pursued another direction and have avoided comprehensive formal "frameworks" in favor of more willingness to incorporate case-specific details, social dynamism, and historical factors in developing social models of exchange (Friedman and Rowlands 1978;Hodder 1982).

Formal, cost-minimizing assumptions about human actions and incentives have provided archaeologists with a much-needed analytical structure to the study of prehistoric exchange, but critics note that it cannot provide a complete picture of ancient economies.

As Hodder notes, most studies have been predicated on the idea that progress can be made by assuming that people in the past considered costs and benefits along formal economic lines (Hodder 1982). Torrence's (1986) study is a case in point, for it is only by making this assumption that she is able to apply the same scale of measurement to people as different from one another as hunter-gatherers procuring workable stone for their own use, and the makers of gunflints for sale in the modern world market (Bradley and Edmonds 1993: 10).

A formal approach can serve as one of the layers in a more comprehensive analysis that also integrates finer scale social factors as well as historical particulars into the analysis.

2.4.2. Analysis of a production system

In a multi-tiered approach that examines evidence from workshops, from residential sites in the vicinity of the quarry and finally lithics from more distant, consumption contexts, Ericson (1984) describes a general "Lithic Production System".


Variable (numerator)

Normalizer (denominator)


Exchange Index

Single source

Total material

Count, weight, %

Debitage Index


Total Tools and debitage

Count, weight, size, %

Cortex Index

Primary and secondary reduction flakes

Total debitage

Count, %

Core Index

Spent cores

Total cores and tools

Count, %

Biface Index

Bifacial Thinning Flakes

Total debitage

Count, %

Table 2-5. Measurement indices for procurement system (after Ericson 1984: 4).

The indices presented by Ericson depend upon general artifact type categories and provide a basis for comparing activities between workshops, local sites, and distant consumption locales. Note that Ericson did not separate complete flaked stone artifacts from broken artifacts, as this was the early 1980s, and thus his resulting indices using weight measures were likely skewed.

The measures in Ericson's table emphasize the goal of allowing comparability between archaeological datasets over widely studied areas by principally relying on general metrics that are commonly gathered in laboratory analysis. In contrast, the current Upper Colca study employed technical analyses of complete flakes and cores in order to highlight differential reduction strategies between assemblages, or between bifacial core versus flake-as-core reduction.


Figure 2-6. Stages of production from quarry, local area, and region (after Ericson 1984: 4).

Ericson presents the spatial distribution of lithic production in terms of stages of production and zones of geographic proximity to the source area. A consistent implementation of this approach on a local and regional scale requires the sourcing (visually or chemically) of the lithic material. Despite the use of commonly gathered measures in indices of production, it would be necessary to ensure that relatively consistent practices in excavation and analysis procedures were in place to permit this kind of regional comparability.

Ericson asserts that workshops should be studied on a general level rather than pursing spatial and temporal variation in activities at the source. He writes that if "there are a number of different workshops at the source, the data must be merged to form a composite picture of production" (Ericson 1982: 133). The emphasis is on documenting the predominant production strategy at a given source area, but at the cost of characterizing variability within a production context. If changes in the use of a given material have been differentiated from stratified deposits at consumption sites in the larger region, how are these changes to be linked with production activities? While workshop sites often lack datable materials or temporally diagnostic artifacts, collapsing all excavated workshop data, and perhaps surface evidence as well, into a single composite picture sacrifices the detail that stratified deposits can provide.

Excavation and analysis procedures in Ericson's California dataset appear to be relatively consistent for the past half-century, however the systematic collection and analysis of non-diagnostic lithics has been historically deemphasized by archaeologists in some regions of the world, such as the south-central Andes. Archaeological practices worldwide have not placed equal emphasis on gathering and quantifying lithic artifacts which would lead to problems in applying the kinds of metrics Ericson suggests on a regional scale. Ericson's approach emphasizes the use of quantifiable and comparable measures over a geographically extensive region.

Barbara Purdy (1984) emphasizes chronology in her study of a chert procurement site in Florida. She did not find datable, organic remains in association with stratified excavations that would provide greater evidence of the temporal associations, but the strata in her test units allowed her to differentiate distinct episodes of use of the site. She found that weathered chert artifacts in a sandy-clay soil were separated by a lithologic discontinuity from less-weathered artifacts produced using a different technology. She was also able to use the relative weathering of chert and thermoluminescent dating on fire-altered chert cobbles from the quarry site.

2.4.3. Specialization at a Mexican Obsidian workshop

Obsidian quarry workshops at Zináparo-Prieto in the state of Michocan in western Mexico were investigated comprehensively by Veronique Darras (1991;1999). Darras undertook excavation as well as systematic survey of vicinity of the substantial quarry area that was used most intensively during the Classic to Post-classic transition (A.D. 850-1000). She documented mines and workshops, as well as associated residential structures and public buildings, in an inventory of 45 sites in the region.

Darras describes mine shafts and open-air quarry pits that parallel obsidian procurement methods elsewhere in Mesoamerica. The mine shafts (Darras 1999: 72-80), are over 25m in depth and include support pillars as well as evidence of torch lighting and ventilation shafts, can be compared with Classic and Post-classic period mining methods used at other Mexican quarries that include the Sierra de las Navajas (Pachuca) source in Hidalgo (Pastrana 1998), and the Orizaba mines (Cobean and Stocker 2002). Open-pit quarry depressions are reported by Darras at Zináparo-Prieto that measure between 10-15m in diameter, with a few larger than 15m in diameter. Quarry depressions with an encircling debris mound were described by Healan (1997) at the Ucareo source, also in Michocan, as "dough-nut quarries".

The lithic analysis approach used by Darras, citing the tradition of Tixier (1980), addresses the abundance of material (the typical problem with quarry research) by employing two levels analysis (Darras 1999: 108-115). The first measures abundance using a relatively expedient typological classification based on material quality, technical class, reduction stage, and relative size and form of artifact. The second level of analysis, conducted only on a representative samples, consists of a techno-morphological analysis of flakes including a detailed study of platform characteristics and fracture and termination types.

Darras finds no evidence of pressure flaking or prismatic blade technology, a situation that makes this workshop analysis to be more comparable to reduction sequences elsewhere outside of Mesoamerica where prismatic blade production also did not occur, such as obsidian production the south-central Andes. Darras finds that percussion industries follow two contemporaneous sequences: one that uses "cada plana" (plane-face) cores, and the other that uses conical cores, each sequence meticulously outlined. These twin industries, and the lack of prismatic blade production, are unusual in the region and Darras suggests that this is due to a lack of regional political control during this stage.

Darras succeeds in integrating household archaeology with her workshop studies, and as revealed by comparison with obsidian consumption in an associated village, Darras documents substantially more obsidian production than appears to have been used locally. However, she does not extend her analysis to the immediate region beyond villages adjacent to the quarry areas, leaving a disjunction between reduction evidence from the immediate quarry workshops and the larger pattern of obsidian artifacts radiating into the region. Darras' study is one of the most thorough workshop investigations to date, and her work provided a valuable model for the current Upper Colca project research because in the manner that test excavations were used to connect quarry evidence with initial reduction trajectories at associated workshops.

2.4.4. A contextual approach to Neolithic axe quarries inBritain

A focus on social context is emphasized in more recent studies of exchange. Building on Hodder's (1982) development of a "contextual approach" to exchange, archaeologists following this approach argue that the study of production sites has been incomplete because the social and sometimes historical elements of quarries and production systems have been neglected in processual tradition that focuses overwhelmingly on the organization of technology and production efficiency. In particular, Hodder and others have argued that the perspectives on exchange articulated by Mauss (1925) and even by Sahlins (1972) have been largely neglected (to judge from citation patterns) in the formal approaches previously described.

A study by Richard Bradley and Mark Edmonds (1993) focuses on axe production and circulation in Neolithic Britain through an examination of quarry production at the Great Langdale complex in the Cumbrian mountains in the Lake District of the English uplands. This area was a source for a fine-grained volcanic tuff material used for producing stone axe heads that were flaked, ground, and often polished, and have been found in Neolithic. Through petrographic analysis it has been possible to connect many axes made from tuff and granite found throughout Britain with the raw material source in the Great Langdale region, but subsourcing resolution has not been possible.

Background and methodological approach

Bradley and Edmonds (1993: 5-17) begin with a useful critique of the formal approaches to exchange first articulated in the work of Renfrew and his colleagues. In reviewing prior approaches, Bradley and Edmonds perceive weaknesses and untenable assumptions in the links asserted by prior researchers connecting (1) efficiency in reduction strategies, organization of production, and degree of hierarchy in social organization (Torrence, Ericson, others), and (2) geographical distributions of types of artifacts with the nature of social organization (Renfrew et al.).

Bradley and Edmonds emerge with a strategy that permits them to connect temporal change in quarrying and the organization of reduction in the immediate vicinity of the source with perceived changes in knapping strategies. They also explicitly attempt to incorporate evidence from social and symbolic constraints on quarries, where historical specifics about specialization, quarry access, and socio-political boundaries appear to trump the larger patterns of circulation documented during the 1970s by Renfrew, Hodder, and others (Bradley and Edmonds 1993: 9, 63). Further, the authors observe that while these social and symbolic control variables are extremely difficult to appraise from archaeological evidence, these unknowns were ultimately some of the most important variables informing Torrence's (1986) formal approach to efficiency and socio-economic control of production. On these grounds, Bradley and Edmonds devote more effort to methodological and theoretical goals that they feel are attainable: documenting variability in production, inferring connections with regional consumption evidence through temporal context, and exploring social and symbolic generalities through ethnographic analogy from quarries and with evidence of regional ground axe distributions in Britain.

Technical analysis

Bradley and Edmonds' (1993: 83-104) lithic analysis begins with experimental knapping studies that allow them to identify the character and frequency of different classes of flaked stone generated during production. Establishing reduction stages from flakes of Great Langdale tuff material is particularly difficult because the material does not contain a visible cortex. Bradley and Edmonds pursue strategies that produce a wide range of flake and core morphologies in an effort to capture the range of possible variation in reduction at production sites. Their expressed aims are to move beyond simple measures of efficiency in production, and they also seek to use their experimentally-derived assemblages to inform their analysis such that that they do not merely derive a single, generalized reduction sequence but, instead, shed light on how knappers controlled form, and anticipated and avoided mistakes.

It was just as important to discover which methods couldhave been used to make an artifact as it was to establish which were actually selected. It is clearly important to understand howthe production process was structured in a given context, but we also need to discover whyit took the form it did (Bradley and Edmonds 1993: 88, emphasis in original).

In earlier work Edmonds (1990) cites from, and applied, the chaîne opératoireapproach to his investigation of quarry production. Curiously, in the Bradley and Edmonds (1993) volume the French term does not appear (although they cite the chaîne opératoireliterature), and in their quarry production studies they instead choose terms like "pathways" to describe sequential reduction.

Part of Bradley and Edmonds' aim is to reintegrate symbolic and social perspectives into the study of quarry production and exchange, empirical archaeologists may ask: how do Bradley and Edmonds conduct symbolic and social analysis with lithic attribute data from a quarry workshop? In their data-oriented investigation of reduction strategies, Bradley and Edmonds gather standard lithic attribute data that is largely in common with those that follow the processualist tradition; it is in the interpretations and assumptions about economy that the differences emerge. For example, many of the assemblages are described by Bradley and Edmonds along a production gradient that range from "wasteful and inefficient" to "careful preparation" or ad-hoc versus structured production using evidence from flake dimensions, platform morphology and preparation, flake termination type, and other attributes.

For Bradley and Edmonds, efficiency is investigated primarily in a heuristic manner in association with spatial context in that they suggest expediency, investment, and reduction strategies over the larger quarry area. Their technical analysis is able to conclude, among other things, that axes appeared to be exported from the quarry area in two forms: (1) crude asymmetrical rough-outs with hinges and deep scars, and (2) more processed and nearly finished artifacts that lacked only polishing.

They also note that some processing appeared to occur at some distance from the quarry, and in other cases nearly all of the production sequence occurs at the quarry. The authors used evidence of excessive labor expenditure, such as in axe grinding and polishing, as a contrast to the "rational", cost-minimizing expectations of efficient production expectations. For example, they explain that polishing of axe heads is laborious, but it results in greater longevity in the axe because during use the irregularities can act as platforms for unintentional flake removal. Furthermore, polished axes remain in their hafts more consistently. Polish over the entire surface, however, is not necessary and is labor intensive. Were axes polished over their entire surface to increase their exchange and gift value through greater labor investment? In evolutionary approaches, labor investment in goods is cited as a form of prestige technology (Hayden 1998, see Section 2.2.2). Bradley and Edmonds present an insightful review of existing approaches and bring quarry analysis one step further with their in-depth technical analysis that informs a novel yet cautious interpretation with an incorporation of elements of the symbolic and social theory current in the early 1990s.

Chaînes opératoires at quarry workshops

The chaîne opératoireanalysis of quarry materials described by Edmonds (1990) deserves further mention. The chaîne opératoireapproach conceives of lithic reduction as a comprehensive system or "syntax of action" from the origin of lithic material at the quarry to reduction, reuse, and abandonment within a larger context of human action. Sellet (1993: 106) writes that the chaîne opératoireis a "chronological segmentation of the actions and mental processes required in the manufacture of an artifact and its maintenance in the technical system of a prehistoric group. The initial stage of the chain is raw material procurement, and the final stage is the discard of the artifact."

In the realm of lithic production, Shott (2003) and others question whether the chaîne opératoireapproach is notably different from Holmes' century-old concept of "reduction sequence" (Holmes 1894) and Schiffer's Behavioral chain analysis (Schiffer 1975). Two major differences distinguish chaîne opératoirefrom the lithic reduction sequence analysis in the North American tradition. First, while the American reduction sequence focuses solely on lithic production, chaîne opératoireapplies to apprenticeship and expertise relating to allmaterial culture behavior beginning with lithic production but also including ceramics, textiles, architecture, wine-making, and others (Tostevin 2006: 3). Second, even when confined to lithic production, the chaîne opératoireapproachexplicitly attempts to infer the choices and intentionality of the knapper, as well as to capture greater context and breadth by seeking to address the larger context of activity and action.

French archaeology has a long tradition of attributing archaeological variability to choice, stretching back from Boeda (1991) to Bordes to Breuil. This tendency is balanced by an equally strong American-based resistance to attribute variation to cultural choice until all other factors, particularly reactions to environmental stimuli, have been excluded, forming one of the central tensions in the current debate (Tryon and Potts 2006).

Others argue that while attempts to consider the intentionality of the knapper are commendable, in their weaker form sequential models like chaîne opératoirerun the danger of being overly typological and rigidly unable toincorporate behavior that diverges from a one particular linear progression (Bleed 2001;Hiscock 2004: 72).

From the perspective of quarry procurement and workshop activities, production would have proceeded with a goal in the mind of the knapper based on the quality of the raw material as well as organizational issues like technological requirements and mode of transport. For Edmonds (1990: 68) implementing a chaîne opératoireapproach at a quarry workshop appears to have been complicated by an overwhelming presence of flaked stone belonging to early stages production, and a paucity of evidence concerning consumption. It seems that observing a complete "syntax of action" is hampered by the incomplete view of reduction, as the evidence is overwhelmingly from workshops and not from consumption sites. Thus, while quarry workshops have relatively few classes of artifacts the techniques, such as refitting, are seldom practicable when there is an abundance of early stage material and an under-representation of advanced reduction flakes and complete, or near complete, tool forms.

Variability in initial reduction of cores observed at the Great Langdale quarry workshops reflect the available raw material and the quarrying methods used to procure the material, and these frame the starting context for following a chaîne opératoireanalytical model. However, the chaînesequence is often truncated and largely capable of merely determining early reduction characteristics that are basic to all reduction sequence analyses in the tradition of Holmes (1894). For example, at Great Langdale the researchers determine, mostly from platform characteristics, that there was expedient, ad hoc production in one period and more precise and controlled flaking in another. Sequence models seem to be of limited utility in contexts where only initial workshop production is available, a condition that perhaps explains the avoidance of an explicitly chaîne opératoireapproach in the later Bradley and Edmonds (1993) volume. In sum, chaîne opératoireis roughly synonymous with American 'reduction sequence' and Schiffer's Behavioral Archaeology in terms of low and mid-level theory, but in high level theory it is not generally presented except for the theory of chaîne opératoireitself (Tostevin 2006). Given the difficulties of meaningfully applying chaîne opératoireto data based almost entirely on quarry workshop contexts, the concepts will not be attempted in this research.

Interpreting the axe trade

While earlier approaches focused on efficiency and evolutionary schema in a commodified vision of production, Bradley and Edmonds (1993) attempt to take a middle road where they use measures of efficiency and investment observed in workshop contexts in a heuristic manner, but they principally base their interpretations of production on the changing socio-political context of the larger consumption zone. They consider artifacts in terms of dichotomies that probably existed in some form, dividing the circulation of inalienable gifts from alienable commodity production. They seek to consider the implications of gifts in the theoretical terms that relate gift-giving and status acquisition with the political strategizing of elites in Neolithic Britain. Further, they consider the "regimes of value" where gifts and commodities circulate and are assigned value that is a construction of political contexts and not merely a reflection of measurable costs using the concepts of social distance borrowed from Sahlins. Finally, Bradley and Edmonds consider the circulation of axes as wealth goods and the ways in which elites may influence the specialized production of axes (Brumfiel and Earle 1987) and the circulation and consumption in a peer polity situation (Renfrew and Cherry 1986) or through control of deposition (Kristiansen 1984). Ironically, while neoevolutionist approaches are explicitly rejected, one is left with the question: what is theoretically significant about changes observed in the circulation of axes if not the link to evolutionary changes in socio-political organization? In both Edmonds (1990: 66-67) and Bradley and Edmonds (1993), evolutionary explanations are avoided in the analysis of production, but in regional exchange the changes observed attributed to increasing levels of social ranking as indicated by competition over exchange networks and specialized knowledge during the Later Neolithic.

2.4.5. Discussion

The principal challenges of quarry research in archaeology were articulated in the seminal work of Holmes, one hundred years ago. These difficulties include the sheer quantity of non-diagnostic artifacts and sampling issues, the lack of temporal control, and stratigraphy that is either complex or non-existent, it is no wonder that relatively few projects have targeted quarry areas in the intervening century.

Advances in the last few decades include methodological improvements like rigorous attribute analysis and greater standardization of measures and digital measurement devices that have sped up lab work. Theoretical advances include an exploration of principles of production efficiency and subsequent articulation of the problems and prospects of this formal approach. Principal among these are further incorporation of data from adjacent contexts, the use of other lithic material types close to a major source, and the incorporation of evidence from other material classes like ceramics. More recent advances include the incorporation of additional datasets into quarry and workshop analysis, a wider theoretical scope, and an attempt to understand the wider intentionality and decision sequence of quarry procurement and initial production.

A promising theoretical approach to procurement and exchange would recognize the need for a consistent framework against which to assess changes in production, circulation and the regional demand, but it is also one that responds to local variation and multiple reduction trajectories outside the scope of formal concepts of efficiency. Production and circulation of lithic raw material from quarry sites often span broad time periods and must reconcile with a great variety of cultural and organizational forms. In regions of the world (such as the south-central Andes) where foraging was largely replaced by agro-pastoralism, where residential mobility was replaced by sedentary communities with mobile components, and where egalitarian social structure changed into ranked and ultimately stratified societies, these large scale changes must be reconciled with evidence of technological organization and exchange. While a skeleton of expectations can be built from the general anthropological evidence provided in this chapter, the regional specifics of Andean prehistory flesh out the character of production and exchange of Chivay obsidian through time. Models that are applicable to the case of Chivay obsidian and that assimilate issues from this chapter with the Andean regional trajectory are presented at the end of the following chapter.