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Children and Childhood in Bioarchaeology$
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Patrick Beauchesne and Sabrina C. Agarwal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056807

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056807.001.0001

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Life, Death, and Burial of Children on the North Coast of Peru

Life, Death, and Burial of Children on the North Coast of Peru

An Integrative and Interpretive Bioarchaeological Perspective (850 BC–AD 1750)

(p.127) 4 Life, Death, and Burial of Children on the North Coast of Peru
Children and Childhood in Bioarchaeology

Haagen D. Klaus

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines bioarchaeological data funerary patterns, and other contextual data derived from a sample of nearly 900 subadults who lived and died in the Lambayeque region of Peru's north coast from A.D. 900 to 1750. Paralleling various ethnohistoric perspectives, stark paleodemographic under-representation of the young in cemeteries and the preference for children as blood sacrifice victims points to the possibility that late pre-Hispanic Lambayeque childhoods involved meanings, symbolisms, and identities radically different from that of adults. Pre-Hispanic childhood may have been a liminal state, bridging supernatural and human realms. Following the Spanish conquest, indigenous experiences of childhood changed radically. Multiple skeletal indicators show that, when compared to pre-Hispanic children, many Colonial children bore much greater health burdens. Practices of childcare also changed, as millennia-old cradle boarding practices ceased rapidly in some areas. Alterations of childcare and inclusion of children into Colonial cemeteries indicates distinct changes in the cultural perception of childhood. However, the differential mortuary treatment of various children suggests that the young were still somehow distinct, as probably conceptualized in a hybrid Euro-Andean framework into the mid-18th century.

Keywords:   Peru, Pre-Hispanic, Colonial, Childhood, Mortuary treatment, Bioarchaeology, Health, Liminal State

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