The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Grasshopper’s Children: Bioarchaeological Reconstruction of Social Age Identity


Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Scarborough

Saturday 11:15-11:30, Ballroom B Add to calendar

The present study examines the social construction of childhood at Grasshopper Pueblo (AD 1275 - 1400), Arizona. Although Grasshopper’s “children" have been the focus of both mortuary archaeology and biological anthropology, childhood has always been equated with biological immaturity, while the social construction of age identity has not been examined. Although modern Puebloans consist of a number of various ethnolonguistic groups, an analysis of ethnographic literature suggests that despite differences, modern tribes (particularly Hopi, Zuni and Tewa) share a common social construction of childhood. Mortuary and skeletal data for 664 Grasshopper burials were examined to determine if (the?) Grasshopper Pueblo follows the pattern of social construction of childhood recognized among modern Puebloans. Both juveniles and adults were included in the analysis to establish children and adult specific patterns and to contextualize the differences. Analysis of mortuary data revealed that the location of the burials, as well as burial practice, reflects age-related mortuary practices in modern Puebloans. Analysis of skeletal data, particularly mortality and growth patterns, and results of paleopathological analyses, further support this social construction of childhood. The results will be discussed within a regional and temporal context. Furthermore, the link between child mortality and morbidity, and social construction of childhood in the context of ancestral and modern Puebloans will be explored.

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