The scholarly debate on the nature of the ancient economy and its role in ancient society illustrates the limitations of the relevant evidence and the embeddedness of the various approaches and models in contemporary scientific thinking and wider sociological conditions.

The ICRATES platform wishes to make a specific contribution to the debate by studying mechanisms of production and exchange in antiquity, and focussing on the contribution of banausic (mainly metalworking, glassmaking and clay-working) crafts and the textile sector to the structure and working of society in the eastern Mediterranean, between the coming of Rome in the second century BC and the Islamic conquest in the seventh century AD. The use of GIS-based software, supported by INTERGRAPH, will constitute a fundamental component of the research in supporting geographical and statistical analyses.

Research within the ICRATES platform is based on, at least, three convictions:

  • that non-agricultural production made a contribution to the ancient economy,
  • that there is an ever-growing need for interdisciplinary archaeological research to substantiate the descriptive framework of the ancient economy with a variety of topics and case studies and
  • that the road ahead is open.

The evidence analysed within the ICRATES platform is produced by a conscious combination of new fieldwork and laboratory analyses, along with an exhaustive study of the relevant published tradition, and exchange of information and ideas within an international and interdisciplinary framework of collaboration.

The major research objectives include:

  • going back to basics by collecting and deconstructing the available evidence,
  • develop socio-economic models of production organisation based on new interdisciplinary fieldwork and analyses,
  •  reconstruct and interpret exchange mechanisms and patterns from a regional perspective by combining the evidence of the studied crafts and
  • reconstruct the contexts of use, or in what ways the consumption of household artefacts reflected and interacted with the evolving cultural, political and socio-economic patterning during the period under study.

The ICRATES platform wishes to be rooted in the ongoing large-scale archaeological project focussing on ancient Sagalassos and its territory. Further original material can be supplied by the ongoing Boeotia Survey Project from the University of Leiden. Apart from this fieldwork, it is the aim of the platform to include most regions of the Roman East, based on exhaustive literature study.