Cologne Tableau

Tim Kerig, Data for comparing prehistoric and ancient economies: The Cologne Tableau (Kölner Tableau, KöTa) version 12/2015

The Cologne Tableau is a simple table depicting every imaginable good or service except rights. It has the potential to name everything a human being ever used. It is designed to address archaeological issues of past economies enabling the use of simple econometrical approaches borrowed from economics. Every good can be allocated to a sector. We differentiate initial production, crafts, and services as well as an exchange and a reproduction sector. The first three sectors are mainly in accordance with the familiar model of three sectors in macroeconomics, while the latter two are added to solve archaeological and anthropological problems. Gathering, hunting, agricultural production, and mining are allocated to the sector of initial production. Crafts, such as food preservation and some construction work, the production of tar, of ropes, the furrier’s and the carpenter’s work add up to the second sector. The third sector of “services” contains arts, medical care and midwifery, and educational and religious expenditures. Here one finds, for example, offerings and the building of ritual monuments. The exchange sector includes the infrastructural services of road−building, as well as bribery and warfare. Most likely underestimated is the reproductive sector. Cooking, maintenance of the household, child care and care for the elderly, personal hygiene, sports, and the sweetness of doing nothing are only a few examples connected to the wide range of household activities. The Cologne Tableau orders goods systematically in a table, and it allows us to merge less complex goods to goods of higher complexity by simple addition. The sectors are differentiated down the columns. In the rows the complexity increases from the right to the left. Every cell contains the information of the cells to its right – thus the cells form a mono−hierarchical classification. An example: Let clearing and threshing be necessary steps in crop production of a given agricultural system. Crop and livestock are part of the agricultural sector, while agriculture is part of the more complex production sector. Each good, each sector, actually every cell of the table bears an ID number. The ID gives the relation of the cell to the neighbouring cells to the right and left: (“harrowing”) is part of 1.4.1 (“cereal production”); 1.4.1 is part of 1.4 (“agriculture”); and 1.4 is part of 1 (“initial production”).

There are different ways of using the Tableau: One can display actual numbers, for example the demand for or the output of a certain good. For intercultural comparisons the demand for goods can be given in the cells of the Tableau. Comparisons may be made between archaeological stages or between economic systems. It is possible to show a stage of a development or to give the difference between two economic systems in terms of a ratio. This means every good becomes assessable and every arbitrary mix of goods – a “market basket” – becomes inter−culturally assessable. For quantitative analyses all goods must be valued using a common unit of measure, whether it be money, expenditure in kilojoules, or hours of work (slightly modified from Kerig T. 2009. Towards an Econometrically Informed Archaeology: The Cologne Tableau (KöTa). In Lambers K, Posluschny A, Herzog I (eds.). Layers of perception – CAA 2007. Bonn: Habelt. no pag.).

Cologne Tableau 2015