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Early medieval Irish literature contains detailed information about food rents in premonetary economic systems based on clientage relations. Clients have to pay their patrons for a loan (a „fore-payment“) of a certain value, an exactly defined annual rent consisting of agricultural resources and prepared foodstuffs. Itinerant patrons consume at least parts of this rental income at „feasts“ more or less immediately when it is delivered; customary events characterised by a particular feasting culture. The texts also tell us about rules for the sustenance of the sick and the injured, who are entitled to a legally defined „healthy“ diet depending on their social rank. In all of these texts, however, agricultural resources and foodstuffs serve as means of payment in a defined, premonetary system of established exchange value relations. This contribution examines these texts and develops a general model of foodstuffs as an established exchange value system and their consumption in premonetary societies.


  • ARCHAEOLOGY, History, Ireland, Celtic, premonetary economy, Food Habits
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)169
Number of pages185
JournalMitteilungen der Antropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2017

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