An Evaluation: A New Approach to the Study of Ancient

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Sema Küçükdeniz
Sheila Margaret Pelizzon
Econ 207
30 October 2014
An Evaluation of A New Approach to the Study of Ancient
Many scholars agree on the fact that fully understanding of the history of economics and observation of the changes between economic implementations comparing the ancient and the new through time is something hard to achieve. The reason for that is because making a linkage between past and present economic applications lies on comprehending various texts that have been ever written although there are not much researchers that are capable of doing that efficiently. Given that the ancient systems are not a hundred percent clarified yet, dominant concepts of today such as markets and money as a unit of analysis are tried to be used to describe the economic situation of archaic periods. The occasions above led A.L. Oppenheim to discuss that there needs to be a new approach to the study of ancient and non-western civilizations' economies in his work "A Bird's Eye View of Mesopotamian Economic History". A.L. Oppenheim suggests that in order to manage simplfying the economic phenomenon of elder societies and make it comprehensible scholars should abandon the modern categories and classifications that occured with the dominance of markets. He argues if new specific terms are studied with respect to their meanings, "semantics", then the problems on understanding of the ancient economic systems would be reduced (Oppenheim, 1957: 28). Considering that Karl Polanyi was an economic historian known for his focus on motor skills and opposition to conventional economic thought, he would have been in agreement with A.L. Oppenheim. Especially keeping in mind his opinions mentioned in the book Semantics and Cognition that recognize motor skills as another way to study the output of the acquisition process, he argues that further categorization judgments is not the only likely path (Jackendoff, 1983: 251). By that, it is possible to conclude Polanyi would...
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