The Roman family has become a vibrant and challenging field of study, and the growing interest in children in Roman culture can be seen as a development within this trend. Nevertheless, studies of children tend to focus on the later phases of childhood, with few investigations of the role and significance of infants. While the Roman life-course and the social construction of ageing are occasional themes in childhood, discussions the distinct life stages of development and socialization apparent already in the first year of life hardly feature in current discourses. In view of this imbalance in childhood studies, this chapter explores some key aspects of Roman infancy and earliest childhood, using archaeological, epigraphic, and historical evidence to gain insight into the attitudes towards the very young, and particularly those under the age of one year, in both life and death, and, sometimes, even before birth.
Daphne Nash Briggs
This chapter has two parts. The first describes the origins, types, and uses of alphabetic and semi-syllabic writing systems in Iron Age Europe from the eighth century BC to c.AD 1000, and their spread through three main networks of long-range contact and exchange. It illustrates the typical progression from short labels naming craftsmen, owners, and the dead, to practical records of contracts and law codes, then canonical versions of elite oral tradition, and the ultimate generalized literacy of the urban civilizations. Inscribed coinage provides well-dated evidence in many otherwise non-literate places. The second part reviews first-hand accounts by travellers, historians, and geographers, from Hecataeus (c.550–476 BC) to Ahmad Ibn Fadlan and Adam of Bremen (tenth to eleventh centuries AD), tracking incremental changes over time in the range of what was known, and in motives for writing about foreign peoples.