Part of the Family: Age, Identity, and Burial in Copper Age Iberia

  • Jess BeckEmail author
Part of the Bioarchaeology and Social Theory book series (BST)


Recent work has called attention to the significant numbers of subadults recovered from Late Prehistoric burial contexts in western Iberia. However, subadult burials are also documented at some of the well-known, large-scale Copper Age centers of southeastern Spain, where adults and subadults are represented in both commingled and individual inhumations. The importance of the inclusion and mortuary treatment of subadults at such centers of social and economic activity has yet to be sufficiently explored. Here, I discuss the implications of the presence of subadults for the formation and representation of community identity, with particular emphasis on the case of Marroquíes Bajos. At this site, salvage excavations have yielded evidence of five concentric ditches and one adobe wall that encompass an area of approximately 113 ha, making it one of the largest “matrix villages” of the Iberian Copper Age. Marroquíes Bajos is also a particularly relevant case because subadults occur in formally and spatially distinct funerary contexts. Their remains appear in mortuary structures housing only fragmentary and commingled remains, in mortuary structures housing discrete primary and secondary interments, and in a large, commingled interment in an artificial cave. The significance of subadult burials at Marroquíes Bajos is explored relative to theoretical interpretations of childhood in prehistory, in particular relative to ethnographically and archaeologically documented rites of passage.


Copper Age Iberia Children Necropolis Fosas comunes 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of Anthropological ArchaeologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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