Roman Egypt is the only part of the ancient world where documentary evidence for the age composition of the general population has survived. Pertinent information is provided by extant census returns from the first three centuries of Roman rule. Gathered every fourteen years, these documents list the members of individual households with their names, familial status, and ages. Knowledge of the age distribution enables us to track mortality rates and infer average life expectancy, which is a critical measure of overall well-being. This article discusses mortality patterns, causes of death, and disease and physical well-being.
Liv Nilsson Stutz and Sarah Tarlow
This chapter provides a brief overview of the emergence of children and childhood as a subject for archaeological investigation, before outlining archaeological evidence for medieval birth and childhood from settlement and cemetery excavations. Children’s burials provide information on the social persona and treatment of children at death, attitudes to the death of infants and older children, and their memorialization in the form of burial location, and above-ground monuments such as brasses. Skeletal material yields evidence of age at death, as well as information on health and life-course. Isotope and other scientific analyses of skeletal material is providing further information about childhoods, including diet and migration. Settlements are a fruitful source of information about geographies of medieval childhoods, children’s involvement in work and play, and the material culture of medieval childhood.
Vicki Cummings, Magdalena S. Midgley†, and Chris Scarre
This contribution explores variations in the construction, form, use, and re-use of Neolithic chambered tombs in three key areas of northern and western Europe: (1) France and Iberia; (2) northern Germany, Holland, and southern Scandinavia; and (3) Britain and Ireland. The chapter outlines chronological patterns, and considers key themes such as the choice of materials for construction, locations chosen for construction, conditions of access to and decorations at the monuments, the deposition of human remains and other material at the tombs, and activities at the exterior of these monuments. The implications of similarities and differences between regions are examined, and potential areas for future research are discussed.
This article begins with an overview of the history of excavations and exploration at Tuna el-Gebel. It then discusses the site of Tuna el-Gebel; the necropolis of Tuna el-Gebel before Roman rule; the development of the urban structure in the early Roman period; the tombs of the second and third centuries
In ancient Greek thought, Hades constitutes, inter alia, the incarnation of the invisible— an apparent contradiction of efforts to represent the dark kingdom of the lord of dead. After a brief review of the special vocabulary, imagery, and connotations associated with darkness in poetic and philosophical thinking, this chapter investigates the main devices used in mythic narratives as well as in real religious topography to insinuate darkness and invisibility. An astute use of natural landscape features and architectural elements, such as natural or artificial chasms, narrow passages, cloudy atmosphere, shadowing, and reflective effects tries to anticipate the features of the Otherworld and/or to permit a protected, although slightly distorted, view of the unseeable. Particular emphasis is given to the role of caves and ever-flowing rivers and streams, but also of still water of pools and lakes, an element which acquires an increasing importance from the classical period onwards.
Death is a broader subject within the archaeology of ritual and religion than recognizable funerary rites. The intersect between death and belief has resulted in many of the most significant surviving ancient finds, sites, and monuments, such as the bog bodies of North-western Europe, the Shanidar Neanderthal interments, the pyramids of Egypt, and the tombs of Queen Puabi and of the first emperor of China. Many significant ritual sites have a death-related aspect, as loci of human killing and the deposition of remains (causewayed camps, central European Kreisgrabenanlagen, the Aztec temples) while others were designed for ritualized activities that, though not primarily describable as religious, adumbrated a cosmology of life and death (the Roman Colosseum). This article discusses the anthropology and sociology of death, funerary archaeology, physical death outside the valedictory and funerary contexts (ritual killing, human sacrifice, endo- and exo-cannibalism, etc.), and materiality approaches and evolutionary aspects.