Childist Archaeology: Children, Toys, and Skill Transmission in Ancient Israel

In: Children and Methods


While recognized as important contributors to the household, children remain a small part of ancient Near Eastern archaeology. If one goal of archaeology is to study at a micro/macro level theories of cultural dynamics, then that record remains incomplete, even flawed, without the inclusion of children. Children should not be simply an alternative focus of research, but need to be an integral part of all archaeologies. This study identifies a new theoretical lens, childist archaeology, and then applies this lens to the investigation of children in ancient Israel. Through a case study focused on double-holed discs, or “buttons,” the study concludes that play should be understood as an integral part of skill transmission and the enculturation of children into society. To test the viability of the conclusions, the case study employs experimental archaeology wherein a group of children undertake the task of creating a spinning toy made of ceramics.

Children and Methods

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