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A Tale Of Two Wells: Birth, Death, And Midwives In Ancient Greece

  • 7 Apr 2022
  • 6:30 PM (EDT)
  • Virtual

A Tale Of Two Wells: Birth, Death, And Midwives In Ancient Greece

AIA Society: Narragansett (Providence)

Lecturer: Maria Liston

The death of one or more infants would have been a nearly universal part of the lives of women in Ancient Greece.  Yet until recently, other than a very few burials of women and infants together, there has been almost no evidence for this. Infant remains are rare in cemeteries of nearly all periods. However, the analyses of two wells in the Athenian Agora and Eretria, Euboia provide some of the first evidence for perinatal death and the decisions that were made regarding infant remains. They offer insight into the role of midwives, the interventions that could take place in difficult births, and the causes of infant death.  The informal disposal of infant remains in wells also provides some evidence for the process of acquiring a social identity in Greek society.  We cannot know how much agency the mothers of these infants had in the decisions made about them, but these infant remains provide unusually detailed evidence for the practice and outcomes of childbirth, a central event in the lives of ancient Greek women.

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