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Merchants, Trade, and Exchange in the Pre-Columbian World

October 8–9, 2010 | Pre-Columbian Studies Symposium, Kenneth G. Hirth, Symposiarch

Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to announce the annual Pre-Columbian Symposium, to be held in the Music Room of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., on Friday, October 8 and Saturday, October 9, 2010. Please note that the symposium will be two full days this year; sessions will begin at 9 am on Friday, and conclude Saturday evening.

Comparison of economic systems in the Pre-Hispanic world provides a number of startling contrasts. In Mesoamerica, the rise of civilization and state level society is characterized by thriving interregional trade and the development of one of the world’s most complex market systems. In the Andes, the situation appears markedly different, with the political economy more important than the commercial economy in organizing both production and distribution systems. This symposium will examine the structure, scale, and complexity of economic systems in the Pre-Hispanic world, with a particular focus on the central highlands of Mexico, the Maya lowlands, and the central Andes.

Presenters will examine dimensions of ancient economy, including artisans who produced goods as part of their livelihood, merchants (and other individuals) who exchanged and moved a wide range of goods over space, and the trade and distribution networks through which goods were exchanged, bought, and sold. Symposium speakers include

  • Richard Blanton (Purdue University),
  • Richard Burger (Yale University),
  • David Carballo (Boston University),
  • Tom Dillehay (Vanderbilt University),
  • Paul Goldstein (University of California, San Diego),
  • Kenneth Hirth (Penn State University),
  • Brigitte Kovacevich (Southern Methodist University),
  • Marilyn Masson (University of Albany, SUNY),
  • Enrique Mayer (Yale University),
  • Patricia McAnany (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill),
  • Deborah Nichols (Dartmouth College),
  • Axel Nielsen (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba),
  • Charles Stanish (University of California, Los Angeles),
  • Alexandre Tokovinine (Harvard University),
  • and John Topic (Trent University)

Barry Isaac (University of Cincinnati) will provide concluding remarks.