Archaeology of childhood

Published: 5/4/13

Childhood is a socially constructed category, and although it is a crucial phase for the biological and social reproduction of any society, archaeological research has not paid attention to this question. One must be concerned with its historical and cultural specificities which reveal that the socio-cultural context varies significantly; they are not essential forms or constraints, and do not exist in a finite and identifiable form, neither in historical periods nor in ethnographic contexts. Their manifestations vary from society to society, but it is still possible to understand the characteristics of social facts, because they are uniform within each particular society.

Om our point of view, in all societies throughout time, children have required specific training to prepare them for the adult world, not only on a productive level, but also on an ideological plane. This preparation occurs via processes of socialisation and learning. Learning is the acquisition of specific knowledge and the use of certain technologies by children makes it possible for them to perform precise tasks in the adult world. Socialisation of children takes place in many other spheres and serves as a basis for the creation and negotiation of an individual’s identity. Through these mechanisms, one can have a constant articulation of clear social differences in the political and social dynamics of the prehistoric populations.

These types of practice can be carried out by different members of the social group with differentiated age and gender identities. Through socialisation and learning processes, children receive information and knowledge related to production and technology that enables them to enter the productive sphere of their societies and learn about their own identity. They place themselves in a specific social sphere, learn the characteristics of their gender identity and come to understand and share the way that these societies see the world in order to be successful in both biological and social reproduction.

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