Ivan Vranić

Institute of Archaeology


The Classical and Hellenistic Economy and

the “Paleo-Balkan” Hinterland

A Case Study of the Iron Age “Hellenized Settlements”

Abstract: Dozens of similar fortified settlements exhibiting a familiarity with some Greek building techniques and traditions existed in some parts of the Balkans during the Iron Age, especially from the fifth to third century BC. The settlements are documented in a vast continental area stretching from modern-day Albania, the FYR Macedonia and south central Serbia to Bulgaria. Archaeological interpretations mostly accept that economic factors and trade with late Classical and early Hellenistic Greece were instrumental in their emergence, and the phenomenon is interpreted as Greek “influence” and local “imitation” of Mediterranean culture. Presenting the most influential interpretations of the Classical and Hellenistic economy and some perspectives in economic anthropology, this paper examines the traditional (mostly formalistic) culture-historical understanding of the Balkan “Hellenized settlements” of the mid-first millennium BC and Mediterranean interrelations. It also looks at the construction and role of status identity as a crucial social factor in shaping the Iron Age communities in the hinterland, and defines possible trade and exchange activities as only one aspect of the identity of a burgeoning elite.

Keywords: “Hellenized settlements”, “Hellenization” and the Balkan Iron Age hinterland, economic anthropology, Classical and Hellenistic economy, status identity, Kale-Krševica