From 9-13 November 2015, the Archaeology of Pre-Modern Economies Research Training Group organised a workshop in the United Kingdom. The workshop was structured around the main research themes of the RTG, that is Economic Networks, Settlement Centres and Environs, and Religious Institutions as Economic Units. The programme included educational excursions, museum visits, group seminar-discussions, and networking activities.
During our stay in London, we investigated the economic life around Thames River. Following a boat trip to sites of important and diachronic economic significance along the riverbank, the RTG visited the Museum of London Docklands. The Museum gives unparalleled insight into the socio-economic history of the city diachronically, allowing us to organise a discussion seminar around various issues arising from our visit: production and trade, slavery and economy, economic transformations through time, economic networks, comparisons between modern and pre-modern economies, and the role of the rivers in the economic life of pre-modern societies.
Following this seminar, we visited the British Museum, a nuclei of worldwide collections of direct interest to the broad chronological and geographical spectrum of our RTG: West and Central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Levant, Asia and America. As direct contact with the material cannot be replaced by library research, the breath of these collections provided fresh insights into various economic aspects that our RTG is currently working on.
On our way to Oxford a colleague from the University College London – currently conducting archaeological research in the area – provided a deep insight into the prehistoric sites of Avebury and Stonehenge. Both sites form part of an extraordinary set of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites that seemingly formed a vast sacred and politico-economic landscape.
During our stay in Oxford we visited Balliol College and we were introduced to the academic life of the University. Most importantly, however, we held networking activities at All Souls College with the Oxford Roman Economy Project. The Project addresses “fundamental issues of the Roman imperial economy and analyses all major economic activities (including agriculture, trade, commerce, and extraction), utilising quantifiable bodies of archaeological and documentary evidence and placing them in the broader structural context of regional variation, distribution, size and nature of markets, supply and demand” ( http://www.romaneconomy.ox.ac.uk/ ). Thus, the Project has a lot in common in terms of objectives with our RTG. During the workshops, the speakers of the two groups (Oxford and Bonn/Cologne) presented the Projects. In addition, the databases of the two groups were presented and doctoral students from both sides had the opportunity to present their work providing a forum for further discussion and future directions. Furthermore, ways of future collaboration, both at individual and at group level, were put forward. For example, the speakers (Profs Drs Bentz and Heinzelmann) discussed ways of merging the results of the two databases and mutual interaction in the future.
Finally, Prof. Dr Bemmann and Susanne Reichert had a meeting with Dr. Bryan Miller, who held a Humboldt Fellowship in the Department of Prehistory at Bonn in the past. He is currently working in Oxford in the Nomadic Empires project, currently funded by the European Research Council. The Project’s main agenda is the understanding of nomadic regimes around the world on their own terms, providing a broad comparative perspective into nomadic empires and histories ( http://www.rai.ox.ac.uk/nomadicempires ). These issues are central to the research themes of a number of our RTG scholars.
In conclusion, the London-Oxford workshop was a most fruitful and experiential research activity. Due to its broad geographical and chronological framework, it was inclusive and informative for all the members of the RTG. At the same time, it acted as a most appropriate means for networking with important international research groups in the United Kingdom, and for making our RTG visible at a wider audience working on pre-modern economies.
- Date/Time: 09/11/2015 - 13/11/2015, All Day