Theoretical engagement and methodological innovations geared towards identifying the presence and activities of children in archaeological contexts has increased in pace over the last decade. This paper presents a systematic review of the literature pertaining to the archaeology of hunter-gatherer children (H. sapiens). The review summarises methods and results from 86 archaeological publications, and finds a number of research areas that show material culture relating to hunter-gatherer childhood, including children's playthings and tools, learning to flintknap, and their involvement in the making of marks, art and footprints. The results demonstrate a diversity of evidence from all inhabited continents covering an extensive time frame. Following a thematic synthesis, we further explore the implications of these data for our understanding of the cultural variability and patterning of hunter-gatherer children in the deep past. We discuss possible interpretative pathways that can shed light on children's learning processes, agency, minds and bodies, use of space, and how they were embedded in social worlds. The paper closes by proposing potential improvements to archaeological and anthropological research that will further progress our understanding of children as active and engaged members of their societies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: SLL was funded by the Cambridge International Trust, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Scholarship (award no. 752-2016-0555) and Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (award no. 756–2019-0102) during the research and writing of this paper.
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.
- Forager children
- Hunter-gatherer archaeology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics