Neolithic taxes .

Jan 2019
44
Belgium
#1
I have read a book about the Neolithic".
This book speaked about a very strange things... strange but logical .... the taxes in the Neolithic ....

The idea is the following:
To survive in this time you must be a member of a clan.
To stay a member of a clan you must go to festivals.
To go to the festivals you must offer a rich object.
We can see into the tombs of the chiefs several objects like this: beautiful, rich and useless.
And yet, we can do trading with such objects ....a trade for a lot of things : silex, leather...
The author thinks that such objects were in fact a tax, so that the chief of the clan can trade himself and alone but for the whole clan
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,521
Dispargum
#3
If we think of an economy as a system in which goods transfer from one person or group to another, then an economy can be one of taxation, or gift giving, or booty siezed in war, a market economy where goods are traded, bought, and sold, or a combination of any or all of these. If there is a system that legitimizes the unequal distribution of wealth, then the process that concentrates wealth in the hands of the chief is a system of taxation. Clearly, in the Neolithic there was no money, but there could have been a system of exchange based on barter. There's no reason to believe that a barter system must be equal. It would be just like a chief to insist that his leadership was a comodity that each member of society had to pay for through some kind of gift tax. The priesthood would be another office that society would have to pay for through offerings. Another example of a tax could be if a chief led his warriors on a raid that captured booty. At the end of the raid the booty would be distributed with the chief taking a larger share. The rank and file warriors contributed their service as a kind of tax which was translated into booty that mostly remained in the hands of the chief.

My only knowledge of the Neolithic is about Native Americans. They were very communal, with little inequality. The chiefs lived only slightly better than the rest of the community. Chiefs were motivated by the quest for prestige rather than materialism. Sounds like your archeaologist(?) author is pointing to inequality in the Neolithic. Is that a new and possibly controversial idea? Do most scholars think the Neolithic was a time of relative equality? I have no problem describing a system that concentrates wealth into the hands of a few as a tax.
 
Likes: Kotromanic
Jan 2019
44
Belgium
#6
We must remember that the chief of a clan is an absolute chief .

He can ask you a gift to pay the thing itself .
He can ask you a gift for, after that,be authorized to do a thing

It's like the problems of the chivalry...

First step you must be "capable" to became à knight.
Second step : you must have the money to pay the ceremony ...


The accumulation of useless objects is a sign that "there is something strange" what's happend :
either a sign of wealth
either a sign of religion
either a signe of money

The accumulation of wealths in a grave , and the finding exclusively of rich's tombs and never of poor's tombs
said that only the rich men have a good tomb ,and thus that there is a enormous difference between rich men and poor men ...

We can be surprised by the notion of money in this time .
But it's logical .

The neolithic is the begining of the surplus .
A surplus is a thing that you don't need.
For the first time human collectivities have "surplus" .
Thus they can seel the surplus ...
The question is "how to be paid" in return ?

Qwickely the question of the protection of the value of the exchange appear .
You can't preserve meat an eternity ... but you can extract every days your silex ...
Thus if you have a deal silex against meat you must have "between the buying and the seeling" something inalterable for a long time .
One of these things are the richs and useless objects
 
Oct 2013
6,090
Planet Nine, Oregon
#7
I think things were probably a bit more complicated. Festivals were probably religious and political in nature. Grain could be used as a form of money, the elites always gaining the benefits of work from surpluses in the form of better goods generally. The potlatch is another way to approach things. Later in Egypt there were taxes and the temples is where everything went.
 
Jan 2019
44
Belgium
#8
In Egypte it's quiete different : you have a big administration in the background
Here you have only a ticket for entrance to the ceremony : the object
 
Mar 2015
813
Europe
#9
We must remember that the chief of a clan is an absolute chief .
We must remember that they were not. They could not afford to offend their followers too much. They were vulnerable to overthrow by rivals and deserters. The example of neolithic North American Indians and Melanesians show that chiefs might be pretty weak.

On the other hand, many neolithic societies did support inequality.
Did any neolithic societies have Celtic fields? These are obvious means of taxation.
 

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