Trading Goods – Trading Gods. Greek Sanctuaries in the Mediterranean and their Role as emporia and 'Ports of Trade' (7th–6th Century BCE)

  • Robinson Peter Krämer (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Greek sanctuaries are well known primarily as places within the community to feast and worship the gods. Since the late 7th century BCE, certain sanctuaries, such as Gravisca, Pyrgi or Naukratis, were founded in frontier zones, where they provided access to other cultural groups and featured peculiar economic characteristics. Karl Polanyi defined these sanctuaries as ‘ports of trade’. Sanctuaries with the function as ‘ports of trade’ or ‘emporia’, typically do not consist of large settlement structures, but offer features for trade and exchange, a protecting neutrality, and function as a gateway between at least two parties. The archaeological record indicates an important Greek presence in ‘ports of trade’ situated in frontier zones. Additionally, administrative structures and exchanged goods suggest a completely transformed trading strategy from the late 7th/early 6th century BCE onwards. This paper argues that ‘emporia’ were the key institution for the beginning of an intensive Mediterranean long distance trade in the Classical World.