EAA conference

EAA conference

Current Approaches to Archaeological Juvenile Burials [Session ID: R17]

Melie Le Roy and Eileen Murphy

Juvenile interments are frequently discovered within a variety of funerary and domestic contexts. Each burial has its own form; the body is positioned in a particular manner and they are sometimes associated with funerary goods and the remnants of grave furnishings. How can we interpret these different components of mortuary ritual? What insights can we gain concerning the wishes and beliefs of those who buried the children? What methodological approaches might enable these questions to be addressed most successfully? The majority of archaeological studies about children in the past derive their information from funerary contexts. What are the processes being used by researchers to analyse juvenile remains and to identify taphonomic processes at play within burials? Can funerary practices related to the age and, in some cases, the sex of the individual be identified? How are such mortuary rituals manifest both temporally and chronologically? Regardless of the time period or geographical location, childhood is not solely a biological stage but is also defined by cultural and social parameters. By contextualising the data collected in both the field and laboratory it is possible to gain a more nuanced understanding of the attitudes that were shown towards the young in the past. We can move beyond generating purely scientific data to gaining an understanding of key facets of past life, including the emotional attitudes that were shown towards children during life and in death, as well as their place in the social strata and ritual activities of their societies. In this session we hope to assemble a panorama of studies about juvenile burials which will enable us to gain a better understanding of current methodologies and investigative tools. The speakers will demonstrate how these are being used to generate more holistic narratives about the identity of the young in past societies. Further information about the conference can be found at


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