Ageing, childhood, and social identity in the Early Neolithic of Central Europe

Penny Bickle, Linda Fibiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, osteological and archaeological data are brought together to further our understanding of childhood in the early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik culture (LBK; c. 5500–5000 cal bc). In many characterizations of LBK society, fixed representations of sex or identities based on subsistence strategies pervade, with children rarely considered and then only as a specialized and separate topic of study. As a challenge to this view, a summary of the current models of childhood in the LBK culture is presented and debated with reference to the burial rites of children. A period of ‘middle’ childhood is proposed for the LBK culture. The osteological evidence suggests that childhood could be a time of dietary stress, perhaps with sex-based differences from childhood, and examples of the diseases and traumas suffered are discussed. Finally, the possibility that the children were actively contributing to acts of personal violence is raised. While the recognition of identity making as a continuous process remains a powerful exploratory route to investigating prehistoric societies, we argue that this should not discourage us from seeing identity as formed over the entire lifecourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-228
JournalEuropean Journal of Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2014


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