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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the everyday lives of children in Roman Egypt of the first three centuries CE. A reading of household census material from the perspective of children’s positions illustrates the crowded nature of home life. Prevailing high mortality rates combined with virilocal marriage patterns to result in families within which children were raised alongside numerous siblings, cousins, and unrelated children—domestic life was far from isolating. The chapter also uses private letters and archeological material to ask who were the prominent adults in children’s lives: wet nurses would frequently contribute to the care of very young children, and aunts and grandmothers happily accepted obligations in guardianship, apprenticeship arrangements, and socialization of children within and outside the home. Children born into wealthier families enjoyed opportunities to join fellow pupils and teachers at a school in the city and often wrote home expressing familiar sentiments of affection for their home life.

Keywords: Apprenticeship, aunts, census, cousin, Egypt, grandmothers, guardianship, school, siblings, wet nurses

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