1st Edition

Children in Antiquity Perspectives and Experiences of Childhood in the Ancient Mediterranean

    656 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This collection employs a multi-disciplinary approach treating ancient childhood in a holistic manner according to diachronic, regional and thematic perspectives. This multi-disciplinary approach encompasses classical studies, Egyptology, ancient history and the broad spectrum of archaeology, including iconography and bioarchaeology.

    With a chronological range of the Bronze Age to Byzantium and regional coverage of Egypt, Greece, and Italy this is the largest survey of childhood yet undertaken for the ancient world. Within this chronological and regional framework both the social construction of childhood and the child’s life experience are explored through the key topics of the definition of childhood, daily life, religion and ritual, death, and the information provided by bioarchaeology. No other volume to date provides such a comprehensive, systematic and cross-cultural study of childhood in the ancient Mediterranean world. In particular, its focus on the identification of society-specific definitions of childhood and the incorporation of the bioarchaeological perspective makes this work a unique and innovative study.

    Children in Antiquity provides an invaluable and unrivalled resource for anyone working on all aspects of the lives and deaths of children in the ancient Mediterranean world.

    Introduction: investigating the ancient Mediterranean ‘childscape’

    Lesley A. Beaumont, Matthew Dillon and Nicola Harrington

    PART I: What is a child?

    1. The ancient Egyptian conception of children and childhood

    Nicola Harrington

    2. What is a child in Aegean prehistory?

    Anne P. Chapin

    3. Ideological constructions of childhood in Bronze and Early Iron Age Italy: personhood between marginality and social inclusion

    Elisa Perego

    4. Defi ning childhood and youth: a regional approach to Archaic and Classical Greece: the case of Athens and Sparta

    Lesley A. Beaumont

    5. The child in Etruscan Italy

    Marjatta Nielsen

    6. Children and the Hellenistic period

    Mark Golden

    7. Roman childhood revisited

    Véronique Dasen

    8. From birth to rebirth: perceptions of childhood in Greco-Roman Egypt

    Lissette M. Jiménez

    9. Looking for children in Late Antiquity

    Geoff rey Nathan

    10. From village to monastery: fi nding children in the Coptic record from Egypt

    Jennifer Cromwell

    PART II: Daily life

    11. The child’s experience of daily life in ancient Egypt

    Amandine Marshall

    12. Changing states: daily life of children in Mycenaean and Early Iron Age Greece

    Susan Langdon

    13. Children in early Rome and Latium

    Sanna Lipkin and Eero Jarva

    14. Being a child in Archaic and Classical Greece

    Robert S.J. Garland

    15. The daily life of Etruscan babies and children

    Larissa Bonfante

    16. Being a child in the Hellenistic world: a subject out of proportion?

    Christian Laes

    17. Diff erent lives: children’s daily experiences in the Roman world

    Fanny Dolansky

    18. Children as instruments of policy in Hadrian’s Egypt

    Myrto Malouta

    19. Daily life of children in Late Antiquity: play, work and vulnerability

    Ville Vuolanto

    PART III: Religion and ritual

    20. “Child in the nest”: children in Pharaonic Egyptian religion and rituals

    Kasia Szpakowska

    21. Children and Aegean Bronze Age religion

    Ute Günkel- Maschek

    22. Initiating children into Italian Bronze and Early Iron Age ritual, religion and cosmology

    Erik van Rossenberg

    23. Children in Archaic and Classical Greek religion: active and passive ritual agency

    Matthew Dillon

    24. Children in Etruscan religion and ritual

    Jean MacIntosh Turfa

    25. Children’s roles in Hellenistic religion

    Olympia Bobou

    26. Children in Roman religion and ritual

    Janette McWilliam

    27. Children, religion and ritual in Greco-Roman Egypt

    Ada Nifosi

    28. The child in Late Antique religion and ritual

    Béatrice Caseau

    PART IV: Death

    29. Child, infant and foetal burials in the Egyptian archaeological record: exploring cultural capacities from the Predynastic to Middle Kingdom Periods (c. 4400–1650 BC)

    Ronika K. Power

    30. “Do not say ‘I am young to be taken’ ”: children and death in ancient Egypt: Second Intermediate Period to the Late Period

    Jessica Kaiser

    31. Children and death in Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Greece

    Chrysanthi Gallou

    32. Children, death and society in Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Sicily

    Gillian Shepherd

    33. Children and death in Archaic and Classical Greece

    Vicky Vlachou

    34. Infancy and childhood in funerary contexts of Early Iron Age Middle Tyrrhenian Italy: a comparative approach

    Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

    35. Child death in the Hellenistic world

    Nikolas Dimakis

    36. Death of a Roman child

    Hugh Lindsay

    37. Death of a child: demographic and preparation trends of juvenile burials in the Graeco-Roman Fayoum

    Kerry Muhlestein and R. Paul Evans

    38. Infant mortality, Michael Psellos and the Byzantine demon Gillo

    Lynda Garland

    PART V: Bioarchaeology

    39. The bioarchaeology of children in Greco-Roman antiquity

    Kathryn E. Marklein and Sherry C. Fox

    40. Infancy and childhood in Roman Egypt: bioarchaeological perspectives

    Sandra M. Wheeler, Lana Williams and Tosha L. Dupras

    41. “The greatest of treasures”: advances in the bioarchaeology of Byzantine children

    Chryssi Bourbou


    Lesley A. Beaumont is Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Her many publications on children in classical antiquity include Childhood in Ancient Athens: Iconography and Social History (Routledge 2012). She co-organised the 2015 international conference on "Children in Antiquity" at the University of Sydney and co-curated the accompanying Nicholson Museum exhibition.

    Matthew Dillon is Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of New England, Armidale, Australia. He has written extensively on Greek religion and society.

    Nicola Harrington is an Egyptologist and Honorary Research Associate of the University of Sydney. She received her DPhil from the University of Oxford, and her doctoral thesis formed the basis of the monograph Living with the Dead: Ancestor Worship and Mortuary Cult in Ancient Egypt (2012). Her research interests include religion, childhood, and mental illness in antiquity.

    “I applaud the editors of this volume! They have successfully put a spotlight on the importance of studying the roles children played in the ancient world. Through this new lens, they show that innovative observations can be made concerning ancient religion, funerary practices, the family, women and gender, and the value systems of ancient societies. In addition to covering a range of Mediterranean time periods and cultures, the editors provide us with essays that investigate a single time period from different angles; the reader will thereby be able to acquire the most holistic understanding of the subject possible. Perhaps most precious of all, these essays show that studying children can offer rather moving glimpses of the lived emotions of ancient individuals.” - Susan Lupack, Macquarie University, Australia

    “Childhood in Antiquity is the most broadly based study of ancient Mediterranean children to date, employing the most diverse set of sources to understand them. It is the most chronologically and geographically diverse set of essays about children from the ancient Mediterranean, and is a very useful and broad contribution to the study of ancient children.”- John H. Oakley, The College of William and Mary, USA

    “This informative volume, immersive in range and depth, represents a stellar effort to synthesize and advance our knowledge of ancient childhood in the eastern Mediterranean. Its emphasis on variability in the experience, conceptualization and representation of childhood, its cross-cultural perspectives, and its attention to both certainties and gaps in our understanding are salutary. Lucid and engaging, all essays offer glimpses into distinct but interrelated sets of issues and will stimulate scholarly interest and further research.” - Ada Cohen, Dartmouth College, USA

    "The editors should be warmly congratulated on bringing together stimulating and innovative contributions, from so many leading and emergent scholars researching childhood in the past... Particular strengths of the volume are its explorations of children’s agency, its focus upon the experiences of children and the attempts of many of its chapters to access children’s perspectives, represented as they typically are through the lens of adult perceptions in archaeological, iconographic, literary and epigraphic records... A successful structure makes the volume easy and efficient to use, and excellent cross-referencing between chapters regularly flags up other relevant material. Ultimately, the volume presents a commendable alternative to works focusing on one theme, methodological approach or region, and it goes some way to addressing lacunae of research on certain periods and areas. It effectively juxtaposes evaluation of areas subjected to minimal previous investigation with those that have well-established sub-disciplines, to highlight where future work needs to be focused to improve our understanding of the many ways childhood could be perceived and experienced in antiquity... The chronological, geographical and typological range that Children in Antiquity covers surely means that it offers something to every scholar with an interest in ancient childhoods and children’s experiences in the past." - The Classical Review