papers

Paper abstracts

1.

Vasiliki Barlou (Justus‐Liebig‐Universität Gießen), "What's in a name?". Creating brands and trademarks in ancient greek sculpture

Artists signing their works by name, stating their geographic provenance, family affiliations or apprenticeship, and sometimes even praising their creations, are a common and well known phenomenon in the world of ancient artistic and artisanal production. Less so are the complex mechanisms and reasons behind these declarations that modern scholarship has only recently started assessing and contextualizing in a more holistic manner (e.g. J. M. Hurwit, Artists and Signatures in Ancient Greece, Cambridge 2015).
Focusing on selected examples of ancient sculpture and epigraphy from Archaic to Hellenistic/early Roman times, this paper aims at analyzing how branding and the formation of trademarks functioned in the sculpture business, how names, typologies and styles may have been perceived by commissioners/buyers and how through this interactive process certain markets were formed and maintained. Even the case of some forgeries shall be addressed and thus the question of the reach and the limits of trust in trademark features in a diachronic perspective.

2.

Simone Killen (Université catholique de Louvain), Trust in Tradesmen: How poleis protected their Consumers

When shopping at the farmers´ market or also in the supermarket, we nowadays trust blindy the scales of the tradesmen. Even if the fewest consumers know the measurement and calibration legislation, we confide in the state protecting us as consumers. But how did this bond of trust between the consumer and tradesmen work in the ancient world and which role played the Polis in it?
This question will be pursued in the paper with reference to the archaeological and epigraphical sources of the Classical and Hellenistic times. Especially decrees testify to various aspects of a state protection of trade in Poleis in Greece and Asia Minor: on the one hand, it was established that only official weights were permitted to use in the territory of a city-state, on the other hand, how, where and by whom these official weights and also the standard weights had to be kept. Violations were punished, fake weights were destroyed. Poleis tried to protect their official weights against manipulation and to simplify their control by branding them with reliefs (often parasema, i.e. official symbols), inscriptions and stamps.
First and foremost, these regulations should have served to secure the location of a Polis as an attractive emporium, because satisfied consumers attract more tradesmen who ensure fresh supply and pay taxes to the public fund. But these regulations can also be viewed as an early form of consumer protection guaranteeing legal certainty and generating trust in trading.

3.

Anja Slawisch (University of Cambridge), "Amphoras on Amphoras": diachronic perspectives on trade and the use of the amphora image

In 1982 Carolyn G. Koehler presented a number of Corinthian B-type amphoras with stamps showing an icon of an amphora. Koehler speculates that these stamps were simple potters' marks, presumably designed to manage production in ceramic workshops. Images of single amphoras appear repeatedly on a large variety of amphora types (or on related media) from different places or regions from the 6th/5th century BCE until at least the 3rd century CE. The fact that the earliest examples (from Chios and Samos) actually appear on coins and seals/sealings suggests that this icon may have had an important significance to consumers over a very long time period. In this paper a diachronic approach is sought to explain the occurrence and popularity of this symbol through time and investigate the immanent dynamics of the brands it created and/or represented. Questions that will be addressed include: Are the stylistic choices and their meaning similar through time and space? Are they used for established shapes or to introduce new ones? And, to what role do these images play in the establishment of trust in economic relations over large distances in the ancient world.

4.

Kathleen Garland (Cornell University), Stamps of approval: signaling authenticity in Hellenistic packaging

The paper argues that a consideration of the semiotic affordances of Hellenistic amphora stamps can lead to valuable new insights about the nature of economic activity, valuation, and taste-making in the ancient world. From the late fourth- to first-century BCE, Greek exporters assumed a “stamping habit,” presumably for the purposes of bureaucratic accounting; but these stamps also afforded the dissemination of knowledge to far away consumers as agents within a brand economy. Stamps are here seen as a networking technology that affords “a release from proximity” for producers (Knappett 2011, 100). Drawing on theories of object agency (Gell 1998; Latour 2005), relationally constituted regimes of value (Appadurai 1986), and recent applications of Piercean semiotics within archaeology (Preucel 2010), criteria for determining the iconicity and symbolic-value of amphora stamps are identified. Using these criteria, several archaeological assemblages of Aegean stamped amphora handles are analyzed to determine whether we can perceive any diachronic trends in iconicity. The data suggests ancient producers were aware their packaging could signal the origin and quality of its contents, and thus could become an important player in the negotiation between seller and buyer. The paper concludes with a consideration of how amphora stamps can contribute to broader debates about the Hellenistic economy.