Towards a bioarchaeology of care of children

Marc Oxenham, Anna Willis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In many ways, the current staged approach for exploring the issue of care in the past proposed in the bioarchaeology of care model can be used with any individual, from any time period and/or cultural background, regardless of their final age-at-death. Indeed, the care model can be trained on children, adults and the very old to great effect. This was demonstrated in the first published case study of Man Bac Burial 9 (MB9) (Journal of Paleopathology, 1(1):35–42; 2011), in as much as MB9’s care commenced in childhood and continued into his teens and until his death in his mid to late twenties. The question is whether the bioarchaeology of care model can be used to explore possible provision of health-related care for children when disease and its manifestations are rather less dramatic. Might this model – or an adaptation of it – be useful in exploring health-related care needs and provision for children at a population level, particularly in the contexts of elevated rates of childhood mortality and morbidity often found in prehistoric and early historic lifeways? This chapter explores this issue, focusing on behaviour within the same population that raised and cared for MB9. The value of returning to the Man Bac population is that care has already been clearly demonstrated for one severely physically disabled individual, thus establishing a capacity for caregiving among some members of this community, at least. This chapter considers whether, in a situation where skeletal evidence suggests elevated rates of subadult morbidity and mortality, this capacity for intensive levels of care provision was invested in all children.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care: Further Case Studies and Extended Theory
EditorsL. Tilley, A. Schrenk
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-39901-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-39900-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameBioarchaeology and Social Theory

Bibliographical note

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017


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