Book: The Archaeology of Medieval Spain, 1100-1500
Chapter: Trade, Transport and Travel
The Iberian Peninsula represents a very particular case within the European context. During the Middle Ages Christians, Muslims and also Jews coexist in cities and the countryside. The territory was divided in Christian kingdoms and al-Andalus, both parts changing drastically between the 12th and 15th century. This book attempts to focus on differences, similarities and influences of these various cultures that developed during this crucial period between High and Late Middle Ages, as well as their heritage in present Spain.
The volume is the first modern account in English of medieval archaeology in Spain benefiting from the extraordinary development of Spanish archaeological research arising from the creation of regional governments (Comunidades Autónomas) in the 1980’s.
This chapter studies the trade and transport systems as clear indicators of the nature and health of the economic system of any society. The volume and scale of exchange and transfer of goods, people, skills and ideas constitute a measure of the systems of production and of the distribution of goods, from a local or regional scale to an international one. The buildings, public constructions and objects unearthed by archaeology enable us to identify whether a settlement had a subsistence economy, producing its own artefacts such as ceramics or metals and food without external trade, or whether the state had developed a complex market economy with far reaching trade and cultural contacts.