Anthro Ticker

Giving birth in the Iron Age

Motherhood in prehistory

Neither historical records nor image sources illustrate what life was like for much of human prehistory. From the early Iron Age in Central Europe (c.800-400 BC), however, human representations capture some snapshots of the lives of the elite. As I am approaching the end of writing my book ‘The Human Body in Early Iron Age Europe’ I would like to share three fascinating images of Iron Age women giving birth.

Childbirth stamp (Perkins 2012) Childbirth stamp (Perkins 2012)

Representations of birthing mothers are extremely rare, but recently, new finds have come to light. The motif of childbirth stamped on Etruscan pottery was recently found at an excavation in Poggio Colla, Italy (Perkins 2012). The women in this tiny picture, only about a centimetre high, is squatting as she gives birth to a baby. The baby is shown already partly delivered between her legs. Her hands are raised as she holds on to a frame…

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