Processed babies: Early Bronze Age infant burials from Bulgarian Thrace

Kathleen McSweeney, Krum Bacvarov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The recent analysis of over fifty infants from Early Bronze Age (EBA; third millennium BC) jar and pit burials from various sites in Bulgarian Thrace has revealed funerary practices that were previously unidentified. Varying degrees of skeletal articulation indicate that the bodies of most of the babies were in a state of partial decomposition before being placed in the containers. In addition, there was ample evidence of dismemberment, inexplicably missing bones, as well as additional isolated body parts from other individuals. These factors are suggestive of a mortuary practice in which the dead were ‘processed’ prior to burial. This paper will explore the evidence and the possible reasons for these unusual mortuary practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren, Death and Burial
Subtitle of host publicationArchaeological Discourses
EditorsEileen Murphy, Mélie Le Roy
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxbow Books
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781785707131
ISBN (Print)9781785707124
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2017

Publication series

NameChildhood in the Past Monograph
PublisherOxbow Books


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