Institute of Archaeology


Cultures of Commodity Branding

Commodity branding did not emerge with contemporary global capitalism. Research at the Institute of Archaeology has pioneered the study of branding across cultural and historical boundaries, tracing its origins to the beginnings of urban life in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean, and paving the way for comparative studies of non-Western branding practices in the contemporary world.

This ongoing work obliges specialists in marketing and economics to reassess the relationship between branding and capitalism, as well as adding an important new concept to the work of economic anthropologists and archaeologists.

Related outputs

  • Wengrow, David. 2008. 'Prehistories of commodity branding'. Current Anthropology 49(1): 7-34 (with comments from Rick Wilk, Guillermo Algaze, Irene Winter, Danny Miller, Elena Rova, Douglas Holt, and author's response). As of June 2008, ranked No.1 in the journal's 'Top 20 most accessed articles'; its findings were reported in New Scientist and The Telegraph and by news agencies in Japan, India, Poland, Germany, and the USA
  • Bevan, Andrew and David Wengrow (eds.) 2010. Cultures of Commodity Branding. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. The proceedings of an international conference funded by the British Academy and co-hosted by the Institute of Archaeology and the Department of Anthropology, which brought academic staff and students from both departments into contact with leading researchers and professionals from the worlds of business and market research, including professorial staff from the Said Business School (University of Oxford), the Copenhagen Business School, the Vienna University of Applied Arts, and the Bilkent Business School (Turkey), as well as contributors from departments in France, Hungary, and the USA


  • British Academy Conference Grant
  • Institute of Archaeology Conference Grant