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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This study of infant amphora burial (infants under one year of age buried inside single amphoras) uses data from published Roman cemeteries in North Africa to show that the very young were both valued as individuals and distinguished from other children and adults in the cemetery by developmental stage. The correlation between the size, shape, and texture of amphoras and the age and stature and burial posture of the infants suggests two stages of Roman infancy known from texts and rituals. Where available, small, ridged, ovoid amphoras, reminiscent of images of the uterus and swaddled infants, may have symbolized a perinatal infant’s dependence on its mother, while larger, elongated, and tapering amphoras may have reflected an older infant’s increasing independence from its mother during weaning.

Keywords: Amphora, birth rituals, burial (Roman), cemetery, infant, North Africa, perinatal, Soranus, swaddling, uterus, weaning, young child

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