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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Prof. Dr. Sitta von Reden

Prof. Dr. Sitta von Reden

University of Freiburg
Ancient History
Rector's Fellow
April - June 2020

Phone 0761-2033393


Sitta von Reden, born in Hannover/Germany, studied History, Economics and Classical Philology at the Universities of Freiburg, Berlin and Cambridge. She was awarded her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1993 with a thesis on Gift Exchange and Commerce in Archaic and Classical Greece (published as Exchange in Ancient Greece, Duckworth London 1995). The thesis was awarded the prize of the Best Thesis in the UK (Ancient History/Archaeology) by the Hellenic Foundation Oxford. After a Junior Research Fellowship at The Queen’s College Oxford she was appointed lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol in 1992 where she taught until 2005. In 2001 she was promoted to Senior lecturer. In 2004 she received her Habilitation from the University of Augsburg with a book on Money in Ptolemaic Egypt (published Cambridge University Press 2007). In 2006 she was elected to a full professorship at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which she declined for personal reasons. In 2008 and 2009 she held temporary lectureships at the Universities of Münster and Munich. In 2010 she was appointed professor at the University of Freiburg. In 2017 she won an ERC Advanced Grant for an interdisciplinary project on ancient economies in global perspective.

Sitta von Reden is an ancient economic historian with a main focus on money, exchange and global economic relationships. She has collaborated nationally and internationally with projects on the comparative history of money, social networks and friendship as well as ancient heroism. 

Selected Publications

  • Exchange in Ancient Greece (London: Duckworth 1995)
  • Money in Ptolemaic Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2007)
  • Money in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2010)
  • Die Antike Wirtschaft (München/Berlin: de Gruyter 2015)
  • als Hrsg./as ed.: Handbook of Ancient Afro-Eurasian Economies, Vol. 1: Contexts (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter 2019)


Beyond the Silk Road: Economic Development, Exchange and Interimperiality in the Afro-Eurasian World (300 BCE to 300 CE)

The project explores small to mid-size regional networks of exchange in so-called frontier zones as crucial factors for ancient Transeurasian exchange and trade. It aims to argue that frontier zones emerging from economic, infrastructural, technological and institutional development related to imperial expansion were crucial for inter-imperial exchanges – normally captured by the misleading notion of Silk Road trade. The centuries from 300 BCE to 300 CE were a period of intense empire transformation involving also new regions of the Afro-Eurasian zone. Centres of consumption increased and changed their nature, affecting production, settlement, and regional exchange networks. Imperial centres changed their fiscal regimes and exploited new areas of natural resources, as well as taking advantage of existing local exchange networks.  The development of imperial frontier zones of intense exchange and mobility, I argue, was related to changing fiscal-military-administrative regimes, the development of media of exchange and infrastructures, as well as institutional change. The project aims to shift the focus from imperial centres to so-called imperial peripheries as the driving factors of inter-imperial change in a relatively cohesive global period of six centuries. This model of Afro-Eurasian connectivity aims to revise some problematic assumptions both of Silk Road trade and World Systems Theory, without questioning the Afro-Eurasian world-region as a meaningful unit for cultural and economic analysis.