• “They Enjoy Syrup and Ghee at Tables of Silver and Gold”: Infant Loss in Ancient Mesopotamia

    Author(s):
    Jonathan Valk (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Group(s):
    Ancient Near East, Assyriologists
    Subject(s):
    Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Mortality
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    infant exposure, infant loss, infant mortality
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/t07d-nq30
    Abstract:
    The present study draws on interdisciplinary research to establish an interpretative framework for an analysis of the material and textual evidence concerning infant loss in ancient Mesopotamia (c. 3000-500 BCE). This approach rejects the notion that highinfant mortality rates result in widespread parental indifference to infant loss, arguing instead that underlying biological and transcultural realities inform human responses to this phenomenon. With this conclusion in mind, a review of ancient Mesopotamian archaeological evidence reveals patterns of differential infant burial; while the interpretation of these patterns is uncertain, the broader contexts of infant burials in ancient Mesopotamia do not point to parental indifference, but rather the opposite. The available textual evidence in turn indicates that ancient Mesopotamians valued their infants, sought actively to protect them from harm, and mourned deeply when they died, a conclusion that is not controverted by evidence of infant exposure.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    4 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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