Session: #76

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological theory and methods beyond paradigms
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Systemic Approaches to Juvenile Funerary Rituals. Atypical, Deviant or Normative? Going Beyond Paradigms
Funerary and mortuary studies related to immature individuals have made major advances in recent decades with the development of new approaches, largely related to initiatives in osteoarchaeology and gender studies. Additionally, the increased use of archaeothanatology, which places the dead at the center of such rituals, serves to remind us that the deceased individual was the main focus of the mortuary activity in the past. The entire burial ground being interconnected, should be studied as part of a system of rituals and beliefs. Most of the archaeological evidence gathered to date has indicated that the funerary rituals associated with newborn and sometimes older infants vary greatly compared to those afforded to older juveniles and adults. Perhaps we should not be entirely surprised at this situation since contemporary authors from antiquity, for example, describe how the death of a baby or young child could perhaps be considered in a different way.
Archaeologists generally consider the burials of juveniles in a different way to those of adults but they cannot be certain that the proscribed rituals are structurally different to those of the remainder of society. As such, the crux of this session will be to determine how we interpret the funerary rituals afforded to children of a variety of ages. Should they be considered as atypical, deviant or normative within particular societies?
In this session we ask for original contributions regarding juvenile funerary rituals from all periods and geographical areas. We ask contributors to not only focus on descriptions of the skeletons and burials but rather, we wish the main focus to be on interpretation and take an archaeothanatological and systemic approach, that contextualises the findings more broadly in relation to the society in question. Using this approach, it is hoped that we can go beyond paradigms concerning juvenile funerary rituals.
Juvenile Studies, Archaeothanatology, Systemic Approach, Funerary rituals, Deviant burials, Normativiy
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Main organiser:
Ian Gonzalez Alaña (France) 1
Mélie Le Roy (France) 2,3
Eileen Murphy (United Kingdom) 4
1. PhD Candidate, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, UMR 5140 Archéologie des Sociétés Méditerranéennes
2. Chercheuse Postdoctorante LabexMed MMSH – LAMPEA UMR7269
3. Charlemont scholar 2018
4. Archaeology & Palaeoecology Professor, School of Natural and Built Environment Queen's University Belfast