When They Were Young: Children’s Lives and Burials in Provincial Tiwanaku Society by: Sarah Baitzel
Archaeological excavations inform us that children accounted for a large portion of populations in the past. Yet we know very little about the experiences, social roles, and contributions of children to the family and the community in the ancient Andes. This talk will present archaeological evidence from more than 100 children’s burials at the provincial Tiwanaku center of Omo M10, Moquegua, Peru, to reconstruct notions of childhood and the process of coming of age in ancient Tiwanaku society (AD 500–1000). Drawing on ethnographic and ethnohistorical parallels from Aymara and Inca sources, this talk will explain how children were socialized into becoming productive members of society through playful acts that imitated adult life. Upon death, children’s burials completed their socialization by incorporating the child into the community of ancestors. Status, ethnicity, and gender were closely linked to the experience of childhood, and they materialized in the funerary treatments, dress, and offerings of Tiwanaku children.
Sarah Baitzel is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at UC San Diego. She received her BA from UC Santa Barbara in 2004 and her MA from UC San Diego in 2006. Currently a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, she is completing her dissertation on the mortuary rituals and social identities of provincial Tiwanaku communities at the site of Omo M10, Moquegua, Peru. She has excavated in Peru for more than 10 years. In 2010 and 2011, she directed the excavation of more than 200 burials at the Omo M10 site, the results of which have been published in several book chapters and articles. Her publications include articles and book chapters in the United States and Peru on paleodemography and migration, mortuary practices, social identity, and dress in the Tiwanaku state.