Drawing of an ancient ship | Author: Birgit Nennstiel | CC-BY NC 3.0


The concept of value has represented a much-debated issue in a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology to economics, psychology and many others. Despite the sophistication of arguments and hypotheses, proposals in both anthropology and archaeology generally agreed that concepts of value are profoundly affected by social relations in societies in which they operate. Throughout history and prehistory however, notions of value have often been employed by actors coming from different societies and that therefore responded to the influence of different social relations. This is the case of value judgements operating in what we can describe as social encounters, hybrid contexts created when people from different cultural backgrounds came together to entertain more or less precarious relationships, often entailing economic transactions in which ideas about value had to be confronted and re-negotiated.

Francesco Iacono will examine possible examples of this type of situation occurring in a critical context for human history, the Mediterranean of the 2nd half of the 2nd millennium BC. At this time, the middle sea put in communication people from societies that were profoundly different, such as the early states of the Eastern Mediterranean and the small communities of the western portion of the sea.

Through a diachronic analysis of the contextual distribution of a specific category of material culture in the Central Mediterranean, i.e. Aegean type pottery, he will investigate the relationship between value, power, and encounter, suggesting some potential transformations occurring to broad categories of value at the interface between the Eastern and Central Mediterranean.