Is it ritual? Or is it children? Distinguishing consequences of play from ritual actions in the prehistoric archaeological record

Langley, Michelle C., and Litster, Mirani (2018) Is it ritual? Or is it children? Distinguishing consequences of play from ritual actions in the prehistoric archaeological record. Current Anthropology, 59 (5). pp. 616-643.

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Abstract

This paper identifies a significant interpretive issue for prehistoric archaeology: distinguishing adult ritual actions from the activities of children in the archaeological record. Through examining ethnographic accounts of recent hunter- gatherer children and reconsidering archaeological patterns and assemblages in light of these data, we explore how the results of children’s play can be—and likely have been—misinterpreted by archaeologists as evidence for adult ritual behavior in prehistoric contexts. Given that children were a significant component of past hunter-gatherer (and other) societies, the fact that the material components of their activities overlap tremendously with items used in adult rituals must be routinely considered by archaeologists if we are to reconstruct robust understandings of past peoples all over the globe.

Item ID: 71064
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1537-5382
Keywords: Childhood; Palaeolithic; Archaeology; Ritual; Play; Evolution
Copyright Information: © 2018 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2021 01:22
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 20%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology @ 50%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430199 Archaeology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past @ 100%
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