A common move that you encounter when dealing with ancient societies and economies of the ‘anti-primitive’ move. Trapped within the wayward frameworks of the likes of Moses Finley or Karl Polanyi, the anti-primitives seek to counter what is perceived to be an argument for primitivism. To wit, ancient peoples were rather simple folk, unable to think abstractly, operating with a crude economics and rough-and-ready technology. Plus, they were caught in the stagnation of their set ways. Against this dreadful approach, the anti-primitives argue that they weren’t primitive at all, that they were ‘partly capitalist’ (Algaze). And that’s where the chauvinism kicks in. Eric Cline puts it best: they were as complex and as sophisticated as we are. Ah yes, we are the benchmarks in sophistication and advancement, so let’s pay the ancients a compliment and refute those dreadful primitivists. Ultimately, the problem is the framework itself – primitive versus modern, simple versus complex. A far better framework is an interaction between difference and identity. Of course, they were sophisticated, but that does not mean they were the same as us.

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