Project description

Using the first urbanization of Italy (1000-500 BC), as a case study with a wider comparative perspective on urbanism in the past/present my current research investigates: How were children’ lives? How were they reared? How did this change/is changing with the development of cities? What effect did these changes have on the health and well-being of the people themselves? And which are the implication for us today?

Recent progresses in bio-molecular archaeology allow to assess breastfeeding duration, weaning age and complete cessation of breastfeeding in past-populations. By collecting this information for Mediterranean communities between pre-history and the Middle-Ages it has been possible to correlate shorter breastfeeding-time/earlier-weaning with urban settings (Fulminante 2015).

In addition, the dialogue among different disciplines (archaeology, psychology, anthropology, education, etc.) suggests that the beginning of settled life, with its associated material culture/ technology, had a major impact in human cognitive behaviour also in relation to new rearing practices, space-sharing and apprenticeship in the new urban environments (Howard-Jones, PA.

Building on these premises and to reach the above aims this project will:

1)     Organise an interdisciplinary workshop to discuss infant/childhood studies from a wide range of disciplines and assess the effects of urbanization on child-rearing practices and vice-versa.

2)     Enter a dialogue with the wider public, practitioners in education/health etc. to share the specific aspects of this research that are more useful/helpful to them; and with the children, by writing a new history from their own perspective.

3)     Building on Fulminante 2015 and in collaboration with Kevin Salesse, add new data to the open-access database with bio-archaeological information on child-rearing practices in the Mediterranean between Pre-history and the Middle Ages.

In this way this project will lay the foundations and the background for a longitudinal study of childrearing practices in Pre-Roman and Roman Italy to test the demographic transition hypothesis on the first Urban Revolution in Western Europe.

I am immensely grateful to the Faculty, School, Departments, Institutes and all the colleagues at Bristol University, which have sponsored and have fully supported the implementation of this project and its activities.

Sponsored by:Wellcome Trust ISSF: The Bioethic, Biolaw and Biosociety Research Strand of the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute,  The Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition and Arts and Humanities Faculty Research Seeds Funds, University of Bristol