Long-Distance Contacts, Elite Aspirations, and the Age of Discovery in Cosmological Context

  • Mary W. Helms
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


It is readily apparent that in traditional societies interregional interactions are complex activities that can be undertaken for many reasons by various types of actors and may occur in a variety of formats or structural relationships, ranging from mutual give-and-take to distinctly one-sided associations. The investigation of these phenomena can also proceed along diverse lines. A number of scholars have placed interregional interactions within frameworks of political economy, considering the exchange or acquisition of valuable material resources as an important motive for interregional or long-distance contacts and assessing the usefulness of such acquisitions in the political careers of local and regional elites. I have no quarrel with this perspective, but I believe we can add another major dimension to our understanding of the nature and significance of long-distance or interregional contacts by considering these interactions within a framework of political ideology. In this chapter I wish to broaden emphasis beyond resource acquisition per se to consider both the “meaning” of the distant domains from which such goods are obtained and the “meaning” of the activities involved in contacting such domains.


Geographical Distance Traditional Society Behavioral Contrast Distant Place Distant Domain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary W. Helms
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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