Session: #97

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Motherhood in (Pre-)history from a Combined Bio-archaeological and Social Perspective
In recent years, an ‘archaeology of motherhood’ has started to emerge, which investigates one of the most profound changes of identity women experience: the transition to motherhood. Motherhood includes a range of cultural choices and practices in addition to the biological framework of sexual reproduction, which are subject to change.
For prehistoric Europe, little is known at what age women became mothers, how many children they had, how siblings were spaced and how families were composed. It is equally unclear if women were selected for reproduction, how the social status of women changed as they became mothers, and which rites and rituals were involved that might leave traces in the archaeological record. Objects related to pregnancy, birth and early childrearing are only slowly being identified, as interest in researching motherhood intensifies.
How motherhood was conceptualized and embedded in societies, however, has profound consequences on demography, population structure and even DNA composition. This session invites papers that advance our understanding of motherhood from theoretical, osteological, bio-archaeological, demographic, isotopic and genetic perspectives. The aim is to discuss motherhood in the light of the latest results emerging from aDNA and isotope studies across Europe and to firmly establish motherhood as a research topic in archaeology.
motherhod, gender, prehistory, bioarchaeology
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:
Archaeology and Gender in Europe (AGE)


Main organiser:
Katharina Rebay-Salisbury (Austria) 1
Sofija Stefanović (Serbia) 2
1. Austrian Academ of Sciences
2. Biosense Institute, University of Novi Sad/Faculty of Philosopy, University of Belgrade