By John A. Walthall
The study of prehistoric trade has traditionally represented a major realm of archaeological research. This has been especially true since archaeologists came to realize that the reconstruction of extinct exchange systems may yield more than merely chronological and distributional data. Recently, researchers have explored exchange systems in terms of their social and evolutionary implications and have recognized trade as “central to maintenance and change in cultural systems” (Earle and Ericson 1977:3). Even a cursory review of contemporary archaeological literature clearly verifies the current popularity of such studies (Earl and Ericson 1977; Sabloff and Lamberg-Karlovsky 1975; Webb 1974; Wilmsen 1972).