Trust, Branding and Fakes in the ancient World

AIAC Cologne/Bonn 22 – 26 May 2018

Panel 5.18 – Call for Papers

Considerable research effort has been devoted by archaeologists to the idea of standardisation, both in terms of manufacturing techniques and by identifying the standard volumes and sizes for containers, such as amphorae. Recent work has also been devoted to mapping these standardised vessels and hence establish the networks by which they travelled. But less work has focussed on how these ‘standard’ vessels functioned from a material perspective in the everyday sphere of interaction. In essence, how was trust between strangers established in the vastly dispersed markets of the ancient Mediterranean?

This panel will showcase different forms and concepts of trust, examples of commodity branding in the ancient world and the production of fakes (the inverse of market trust systems) in order to address some underlying dynamics of interaction in ancient economic systems. Contributions are sought from all areas of research on ancient societies (i. e. ancient history, numismatic, material culture studies, literature, provenance studies etc.) that offer a fresh approach to the phenomenon of trust, commodity branding and the appearance of fakes in ancient markets:

  • What are the processes or key features lying behind the creation of trust around certain products or commodities?
  • What factors promote the introduction of new brands, their maintenance and sustainability?
  • How can we characterise the relationship between commodity branding and mass-production?
  • How often were brands abandoned and what are the dynamics or lifespans of certain brands?
  • To what extent can we detect copies and/or forgeries and how did the market cope with these? Under what of circumstances do they occur?
  • Can we define stylistic choices as brand management?

Potential themes for discussion include:

  • Enhancement of trust in specific products through the creation and maintenance of branding.
  • Different forms of commodity branding (makers marks, stamps, signatures, coinage, other imagery).
  • Creation of sub-markets or alt-markets, profiting from selling imitations, forgeries and copies of prized and familiar commodities.

Call for Papers open until 31th August 2017

Registration & submission of abstracts (max. 1500 characters including spaces):