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Title: Ancient childhood : perspectives from Iraq and Syria in the early second millennium BC
Author: Schmidhuber, Christoph
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 0092
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Despite being a major demographic component, our reconstructions of Old Babylonian social, economic, and legal history have tended not to consider how children fit into them. In part, this is because scholars' opinion was that syntheses at this level required the publication of the remaining unpublished sources. But this thesis will argue that, due to the more than 30,000 texts published by now, more can be teased out of Old Babylonian sources than previously supposed (for reasons of space, archaeological evidence is not considered). The main aim of this thesis is to introduce children into our reconstruction of Old Babylonian society (Iraq and Syria, 2000-1600 BC) and to provide insights into their lived experience. To do that it is also necessary to understand the Old Babylonian concept(s) of childhood, or the lack thereof. Research into several periods of history (up to Medieval and early modern times) has illustrated how our modern conception of childhood cannot be projected onto ancient evidence easily and has shown the need to conceptualise childhood within its respective sociocultural setting. The thesis explores the terminology and semantic fields associated with children, and monitors diachronic and regional variation thereof, in order to reconstruct Old Babylonian "age" classification systems and to understand in which situations or contexts a differentiation between young and old mattered. The thesis contains different case studies pertaining to children, each highlighting different aspects of the intersection between family and society, such as "child labour", the role of gender on children's experience and identity, as well as parent-child relations. Additionally, this thesis will provide a theoretical and methodological framework for the study of ancient Mesopotamian childhood that can be applied to other periods of Mesopotamian history as well.
Supervisor: Worthington, Martin Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Assyriology ; History of Childhood ; Mesopotamia ; Old Babylonian period ; Social History