January 2021 Academic & Specialist Manchester University Press

Unearthing Childhood: Young Lives in Prehistory Robin Derricourt


Paperback | May 2018 | Manchester University Press | 9781526128089 | 304pp | 234x156mm | RFB | AUD$39.99, NZD$47.99
Hardback | May 2018 | Manchester University Press | 9781526128935 | 304pp | 234x156mm | GEN | AUD$160.00, NZD$190.00

*Winner of the 2019 Archaeology & Ancient History PROSE award from the Association of American Publishers (AAP)*

This is the first book to survey the 'hidden half' of prehistoric societies as revealed by archaeology - from Australopithecines to advanced Stone Age foragers, from farming villages to the beginnings of civilisation. Prehistoric children can be seen in footprints and finger daubs, in images painted on rocks and pots, in the signs of play and the evidence of first attempts to learn practical crafts. The burials of those who did not reach adulthood reveal clothing, personal adornment, possession and status in society, while the bodies themselves provide information on diet, health and sometimes violent death. This book demonstrates the extraordinary potential for the study of childhood within the prehistoric record, and will suggest to those interested in childhood what can be learnt from the study of the deep past.

'The writing style is engaging and clear. Archaeological examples are explained in plain English and scientific research is nicely delineated. The level and quality of writing should appeal to a wide readership from undergraduate or educated non-specialist to research academic.' — Catherine J. Frieman, Senior Lecturer in European Archaeology, Australian National University

'Derricourt has succeeded at the Herculean task of reviewing the entire corpus of childhood-relevant material from the archeological record. He has amplified and enriched this account with appropriate material from the ethnographic and historic records. The result is a comprehensive survey of childhood in the distant past.' — David Lancy, author of The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings

'Though in prehistoric societies children made up about half the population, children continue to be underrepresented in the archaeological record. Derricourt (archaeology, Univ. of New South Wales, Australia) addresses this underrepresentation by introducing research from multiple disciplines to assess what is known (and what is not known) about children and childhood in prehistory. In chapter 1, he provides a scrupulous examination of cave paintings, children's footprints, toys, and skeletal remains to explore the meaning of childhood over time and space. In chapter 2, he focuses on birth, motherhood, and infancy. The most notable chapters are 4 through 6, which look at children's diets, children's clothing, and processes of socialization. Chapters 9 and 10 discuss prehistoric burial sites with attention to the social status of children. Although Derricourt focuses on European and Middle Eastern burials, he also compares European burial sites to burial sites in Africa and the Americas. In the final chapter, Derricourt outlines what he believes researchers must do to advance the study of childhood in prehistory. His research is thorough, and his presentation is clear and well organized. He avoids technical jargon, making this book useful for nonspecialists and specialists alike.' — S. D. Glazier, Yale University