The Archaeology of Childhood

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on an Archaeological Enigma

Edited by Güner Coşkunsu

Subjects: Archaeology
Series: SUNY series, The Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph Series
Paperback : 9781438458045, 338 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438458052, 338 pages, December 2015

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: Children as Archaeological Enigma
Güner Coşkunsu

Part I. Theorizing (In)visibility, Legitimacy, and Biases in Archaeological Approaches to Children and Childhood
1. The Devil’s Advocate or Our Worst Case Scenario: The Archaeology of Childhood Without Any Children
Jane Eva Baxter

2. Making Children Legitimate: Negotiating the Place of Children and Childhoods in Archaeological Theory
Kathryn Kamp

3. Method and Theory for an Archaeology of Age
Scott R. Hutson

4. Bodies and Encounters: Seeing Invisible Children in Archaeology
Joanna Sofaer

5. Modern Biases, Hunter-Gatherers’ Children: On the Visibility of Children in Other Cultures
Nurit Bird-David
Part II. Interdisciplinary and Archaeological Approaches to Studying Children and Childhood in the Past

6. Grown Up: Adult Height Dimorphism as an Archive of Living Conditions of Boys and Girls in Prehistory
Eva Rosenstock

7. Placing Children in Society: Using Ancient DNA to Identify Sex and Kinship of Child Skeletal Remains, and Implications for Gender and Social Organization
Keri A. Brown

8. Metaphors for Understanding Children and Their Role in Culture
Jack A. Meacham
Part III. Case Studies in the Archaeology of Childhood

9. Children of the Ice Age
Paul G. Bahn

10. Children in the Anthropomorphic Imagery of the European and Near Eastern Neolithic
Peter F. Biehl

11. From Playthings to Sacred Objects? Household Enculturation Rituals, Figurines, and Plastering Activities at Neolithic Catalhoyuk, Turkey
Sharon K. Moses

12. The Ends and Means of Childhood: Mourning Children in Early Greece
Susan Langdon

13. The Children’s Cemetery of Lugnano in Teverina, Umbria: Hierarchy, Magic, and Malaria
David Soren

14. The Age of Consent: Children and Sexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome
Jeannine Diddle Uzzi

15. “A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place”: The Cultural Context of Late Victorian Toys
Kyle Somerville

Part IV. Commentaries

16. Theoretical Issues in Investigating Childhood
Frank Hole

17. Grubby Little Fingerprints: A Commentary on the Visibility of Childhood
Traci Ardren


Critical interdisciplinary examination of archeaology's approach to childhood in prehistory.


Children existed in ancient times as active participants in the societies in which they lived and the cultures they belonged to. Despite their various roles, and in spite of the demographic composition of ancient societies where children comprised a large percentage of the population, children are almost completely missing in many current archaeological discourses. To remedy this, The Archaeology of Childhood aims to instigate interdisciplinary dialogues between archaeologists and other disciplines on the notion of childhood and children and to develop theoretical and methodological approaches to analyze the archaeological record in order to explore and understand children and their role in the formation of past cultures. Contributors consider how the notion of childhood can be expressed in artifacts and material records and examine how childhood is described in literary and historical sources of people from different regions and cultures. While we may never be able to reconstruct every last aspect of what childhood was like in the past, this volume argues that we can certainly bring children back into archaeological thinking and research, and correct many erroneous and gender-biased interpretations.

Güner Coşkunsu is Assistant Professor of Archaeology at the Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey.


"…this book emphasizes the point that childhood research in archaeology may benefit from considering the relationships between infants and children with adults, rather than categorizing childhood as a separate category … [it is] representative of true interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the child in archaeology." — Childhood in the Past