Breastfeeding and weaning practices during the Neolithic and early Bronze Age in Poland
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Infant feeding practices are culturally determined behaviours that have significant repercussions for infant morbidity and mortality rates. Knowledge of the infant feed-ing practices of prehistoric populations is thus important for understanding prehis-toric population dynamics. This study used carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analy-sis to investigate breastfeeding and weaning in Middle Neolithic to Early Bronze Age populations in the Little Poland region. A single Neolithic individual from north-east Poland was also included in the study for comparative purposes. The Little Poland re-gion was occupied by a number of overlapping culture groups during the time period under investigation, and it was predicted that norms and ideals about infant feeding might have differed between these groups. The results show that there was substan-tial variation in the infant feeding practices of these populations, with some infants being breastfed for just six months and others not being fully weaned until over three years of age. Infant feeding also differed between individuals buried in the same bur-ial grounds. At some sites this may be due to the death or illness of the mother while infants were still breastfeeding, however it is also possible that infants were not being forcibly weaned at any particular age. The small sample sizes mean that it is not pos-sible to state with any certainty whether the differences in breastfeeding duration ob-served between the different sites were due to differences in cultural norms about breastfeeding, or were simply the result of local traditions that were independent of broader cultural affiliation. Further research is recommended to explore this question further.
Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes, Little Poland, Infant Feeding, Corded Ware, Bell Beaker, Mier-zanowice, Lengyel, Globular Amphora, Funnel Beaker.
Research subject Archaeological Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88235OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-88235DiVA: diva2:610642
ProjectsIndividual Relations – Cultural Diversity and Interaction in Neolithic Poland
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2009-1722