Life During Wartime: Children, Violence, and Security at Morton Village

Author(s): Jennifer Bengtson; Jodie O'Gorman; Amy Michael

Year: 2017


Children are not immune to the violence of war. They can be incidental victims, prime targets, active participants, beneficiaries of fierce protection, or the recipients of warfare-related symbolic action. Though not subject to the same high rates of violent trauma as their adult counterparts, the available osteological data show that a small number of children interred in the late prehistoric Norris Farms #36 cemetery in Fulton County, Illinois did suffer traumatic injuries, both fatal and non-fatal. Some children were victims of scalping, while at least one was potentially the recipient of a human trophy as part of associated mortuary ritual. We revisit the osteological and mortuary evidence for children’s involvement in warfare at Norris Farms #36 and seek to contextualize it within the ethnographic literature on childhood in times of war. We also consider the somewhat obvious observation that some individuals in this skeletal series—including most children—bear no osteological evidence of physical violence. Consequently, we broach the concept of security as we consider children’s day-to-day lives at the associated Morton Village site and the broader landscape; How might this community have created secure spaces for the physical protection of children and other vulnerable people in the face of danger?

Cite this Record

Life During Wartime: Children, Violence, and Security at Morton Village. Jennifer Bengtson, Jodie O'Gorman, Amy Michael. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431859)


Geographic Keywords
North America - Midwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16079