Ageing, childhood and social identity in the early Neolithic of central Europe

Author(s): Penny Bickle; Linda Fibiger

Year: 2016


Identity is an embodied experience and, as such, it has the capacity to change over a lifetime as the body grows, goes through puberty, suffers illness and becomes inscribed with habitual movements from daily tasks. Understanding the process of maturation is therefore an important facet of investigating identity. In this paper, we focus on ageing and childhood in the early Neolithic of central Europe, the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) culture (5500–4900 cal BC), with particular reference to osteological data, isotopic analysis and funerary practices. LBK identity is often characterised as static and fixed representations of sex or identities based on subsistence strategies pervade. Childhood figures less often in discussions about LBK identity and only then as a separate topic of study. This paper will address the experience of childhood, noting the evidence for illness and violence, the presence of any key life-stages and whether children were treated differently on death. We consider how embodied experiences differed between children and adults, and changed over the life-course. Finally, we ask to what extent bodily engagement in everyday tasks and activities, such as subsistence practices and mobility, led to the kinds of statements and rites which took place in the funerary context.

Cite this Record

Ageing, childhood and social identity in the early Neolithic of central Europe. Penny Bickle, Linda Fibiger. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403758)


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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;