Bronze Age Beginnings: The Conceptualization of Motherhood in Prehistoric Europe



The rich archaeological record of the European Bronze Age (c. 2200–800 B.C.) includes thousands of well-provisioned graves of individuals. In the absence of written records, they inform us about demographic characteristics of the communities and individual identities. Social organization, family structures and mobility patterns can be reconstructed using scientific approaches such as isotope and DNA analyses. This chapter will survey evidence for how motherhood was conceptualized during the European Bronze Age and explore how motherhood contributed to women’s identity. It addresses marriage patterns, the age at first motherhood and describes how women’s social status changed when they became mothers, exploring women’s agency in making decisions about their own lives. It further presents archaeological evidence of prehistoric childcare, including feeding and playing.


Grave Good Burial Rite Female Ornament Gender Archaeology Settlement Context 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Austrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria

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