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Ageing, Childhood and Social Identity in the Early Neolithic of Central Europe

  • Penny Bickle (a1) and Linda Fibiger (a2)
Abstract

In this paper, osteological and archaeological data are brought together to further our understanding of childhood in the early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik culture (LBK; c. 5500–5000 cal BC). In many characterizations of LBK society, fixed representations of sex or identities based on subsistence strategies pervade, with children rarely considered and then only as a specialized and separate topic of study. As a challenge to this view, a summary of the current models of childhood in the LBK culture is presented and debated with reference to the burial rites of children. A period of ‘middle’ childhood is proposed for the LBK culture. The osteological evidence suggests that childhood could be a time of dietary stress, perhaps with sex-based differences from childhood, and examples of the diseases and traumas suffered are discussed. Finally, the possibility that the children were actively contributing to acts of personal violence is raised. While the recognition of identity making as a continuous process remains a powerful exploratory route to investigating prehistoric societies, we argue that this should not discourage us from seeing identity as formed over the entire lifecourse.

Dans le présent article sont rassemblées des données ostéologiques et archéologiques afin de mieux comprendre l'enfance dans la culture à Céramique rubanée (Linearbandkeramik) du début du Néolithique (LBK, c.5500–5000 cal BC). des représentations figées du sexe et des identités, basées sur des stratégies de subsistence, persistent dans de nombreuses descriptions de la société rubanée; les enfants y sont rarement considérés ou seulement à part et comme un sujet d'étude spécialisée. Nous voulons défier cette vision en présentant et analysant un résumé des modèles d'enfance actuels du Rubané avec référance aux rites funèbres appliqués aux enfants. Nous proposons une période d'enfance ‘intermédiaire’ pour le Rubané. Les données ostéologiques montrent que l'enfance pouvait être une période de stress alimentaire, différant éventuellement selon le sexe. Nous examinons également des exemples de maladies et de traumatismes. Enfin nous évoquons la possibilité que des enfants participaient activement à des actes de violence interpersonnelle. Tandis que la reconnaissance de la construction identitaire comme processus continu reste une voie exploratoire importante dans l'étude des sociétés préhistoriques, nous estimons que ceci ne devrait pas nous décourager de concevoir que l'identité se forme tout au long d'une vie. Translation by Isabelle Gerges.

Zusammenfassung

In diesem Artikel werden osteologische und archäologische Daten verknüpft, um unser Verständnis von Kindheit in der frühneolithischen Linienbandkeramik (LBK, ca. 5500–5000 cal. BC) zu erweitern. Zu Bislang sind viele Charakterisierungen der Gesellschaft der LBK von festen Darstellungen von Gender oder Identitäten auf der Basis von Subsistenzstrategien durchdrungen, bei denen Kinder kaum oder nur als besonderes und abgetrenntes Studienfeld berücksichtigt werden. Um diese Ansichten in Frage zu stellen, wird eine Zusammenfassung der aktuellen Modelle von Kindheit in der LBK dargestellt und unter Berücksichtigung der Bestattungssitten von Kindern diskutiert. Es wird eine Periode der ‘mittleren’ Kindheit für die LBK vorgeschlagen. Osteologische Hinweise machen es wahrscheinlich, dass—vielleicht mit geschlechtsspezifischen Unterschieden—die Kindheit eine Periode von Ernährungsstress gewesen ist, weiterhin werden Beispiele von Krankheiten und Verletzungen diskutiert. Schließlich wird die Möglichkeit angeführt, dass Kinder aktiv in Handlungen persönlicher Gewalt eingebunden waren. Zwar bleibt das Erkennen von Identitätsschöpfung als kontinuierlicher Prozess ein wesentliches Erklärungshilfsmittel zur Untersuchung vorgeschichtlicher Gesellschaften, doch meinen wir, dass es uns nicht davon abhalten sollte, Identität als über den gesamten Lebensweg hinweg geformt zu betrachten. Translation by Heiner Schwarzberg.

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