2023The world of children in antiquity
Child has been a central point of reference since the beginning of humanity. Caring practices and tokens of affection survive as early as the Prehistoric times, as evidenced by amulets that were considered apotropaic and toys, fundamental to the development of his imagination and creativity, strikingly common at their core with nowadays.
Sometimes the child is placed in the periphery and sometimes in the core of the family structure. Its frequent loss is a historical reality, given the high rate of child mortality, but also the risk faced by women during their pregnancy. Undoubtedly, however, the survival of the child was the guarantee of the perpetuation of a house, since it would safeguard the family assets and continue the generation.
At the same time, the birth of a child is an affair of the whole community, as it ensures its survival. It is so important in the collective perception that even the ancient gods give birth to offspring, with characteristics that exceed the human measure. The untimely death of children, linked to the founding myths of a city, is commemorated with celebrations that form the core of common memory and the weft of citizens’ unbreakable ties to their polis.
This year’s web event “Exhibit of the Month” presents the “World of Children in Antiquity”. Images preserved through ancient artworks such as nursing the infant, candling of the mother or nanny, carefree play and naughtiness are so familiar and diachronic! The care, love and affection that a child received permeates time and projects into the present, creating shared memories.
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Budin, S.L., Images of Woman and Child from the Bronze Age. Reconsidering Fertility, Maternity, and Gender in the Ancient World, Cambridge 2011.
Chapin, A. P., What Is a Child in Aegean Prehistory? in Beaumont, L. A., Dillon, M. and Harrington, N. (eds.), Children in Antiquity: Perspectives and Experiences of Childhood in the Ancient Mediterranean, New York 2021: 226-41.
Cοhen, A. – Rutter, J. (eds.), Cοnstructίοns οf Childhοοd ίn Αncίent Greece and Ιtaly, Hesperia Suppl. 41, 2007.
Dasen, V. (ed.), Naissance et petite enfance dans l’Αntiquité: actes du Cοllοque de Fribουrg, 28 nονembre -1er décembre 2007, Fribουrg/Göttingen 2004.
Kaczmarek, B., Mycenaean childhood: Linear B script set against archeological artefacts, in Rebay-Salisbury, K. and Pany-Kucera, D. (eds.), Ages and Abilities: The Stages of Childhood and their Social Recognition in Prehistoric Europe and Beyond, Oxford 2020: 122-132.
Langdon, S. Changing States: Daily life of children in Mycenaean and Early Iron Age Greece in Beaumont, L. A., Dillon, M. and Harrington, N. (eds.), Children in Antiquity: Perspectives and Experiences of Childhood in the Ancient Mediterranean, New York 2021: 178-190.
Νeils, J. – Οakley, J.H. (eds.), Cοming οf Αge in Αncient Greece: Ιmages οf Childhοοd frοm the Classical Ρast, Exhibition Catalogue, New Haven 2003.
Rühfel, H. Das Κind in der griechischen Κunst, Μainz am Rhein 1984.