Martine Petlund Breiby (Research Assistant, University of Oslo), "Child mortality – an insight into society?"
The ´child´ in archaeological contexts is normally treated as an undifferentiated group. The recreation of sub-divisions of children through mortuary practices was done with success by Sanne Houby-Nielsen (1995, 2000) with the material record from Kerameikos in Athens. However, no other study has since attempted the same. So, was this an Athenian phenomenon or not? For my master thesis I performed a diachronic comparative analysis of child burials from the North Cemetery at Corinth, 700-400 BC, with the goal of identifying sub-groups within child burials based on age. By analysing grave gifts, I found that the four identified age groups were the same in both Athens and Corinth, although they were expressed in quite a different manner. In Athens, Houby-Nielsen found that objects such as miniature vases, sea shells and figurines appeared more often in child burials than in those of adults. She also found that the older the child was at death the more willing the society seemed to be to contribute more objects. In Corinth, however, there was a substantial lack of objects “typically” associated with children, and it was the combinations of objects, not the individual objects themselves, that made them specifically connected to an age group. The buried children also showed to have a higher statistical chance of getting more grave gifts than adults. The differentiation in the type of objects and the distribution of the different objects will be the main theme of this presentation.