Care in the Past: Archaeological and Interdisciplinary Perspectives [Paperback]

Lindsay Powell(Editor); William Southwell-Wright(Editor); Rebecca Gowland(Editor)

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ISBN: 9781785703355 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2016 | 1st | Language: English 208p, H9.4 x W6.7, b/w
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Care in the Past


Care-giving is an activity that has been practiced by all human societies. From the earliest societies through to the present, all humans have faced choices regarding how people in positions of dependency are to be treated. As such, care-giving, and the form it takes, is a central experience of being a human and one that is culturally mediated. Archaeology has tended to marginalise the study of care, and debates surrounding our ability to recognise it within the archaeological record have often remained implicit rather than a focus of discussion. These 12 papers examine the topic of care in past societies and specifically how we might recognise the provision of care in archaeological contexts and to open up an inter-disciplinary conversation, including historical, bioarchaeological, faunal and philosophical perspectives. The topic of ‘care’ is examined through three different strands: the provision of care throughout the life course, namely that provided to the youngest and oldest members of a society; care-giving and attitudes towards impairment and disability in prehistoric and historic contexts, and the role of animals as both recipients of care and as tools for its provision.

Table of Contents

Preface – Charlotte Roberts

1. Introduction

William Southwell-Wright, Rebecca Gowland and Lindsay Powell

Section 1: Care and the Life Course

2. Childcare in the Past

Mary Lewis

3. The “Terrible Tyranny of the Majority”: Recognising Population Variability and Individual Agency in Past Infant Feeding Practices

Ellen Kendall

4.–Precious Things: Examining the Status and Care of Children in Late Medieval England Through the analysis of Cultural and Biological Markers

Heidi Dawson

5. “That Tattered Coat Upon a Stick the Ageing Body”: Evidence for Elder Marginalisation and Abuse in Roman Britain

Rebecca L. Gowland

Section 2: Care Impairment and Disability

6. The Palaeolithic Compassion Debate – Alternative Projections of Modern Day Disability into the Distant Past

Nick Thorpe

7. Setting the Scene for an Evolutionary Approach to Care in Prehistory: A Historical and Philosophical Journey

David Doat

8. “A Long Waiting for Death”: Dependency and the Care of the Disabled in a Nineteenth Century Asylum

Shawn Phillips

9 Prayers and Poultices: Medieval Health Care at the Isle of May, Scotland. C. AD 430-1580

Marlo Willows

Section 3: Animal and Plant Evidence for Care

10. Towards a Zooarchaeology of Animal ‘Care’

Richard Thomas

11. Rare Secrets of Physicke: Insect Medicaments in Historical Western Society

Gary King

12. Conclusion

Lindsay Powell, William Southwell-Wright, Rebecca Gowland

Reviews & Quotes

"This mix of experience brings out the richness of this complex subject. With a good range of examples covering a vast expanse of time and space, appreciation of data in interdisciplinary contexts, and rigorous and insightful analyses, the book certainly seems set to inspire new thinking in the field."
Lucia Marchini
(Issue 323, February 2017)

"“…it is pleasing to see the inclusion of work of emerging scholars showcased alongside that of established leaders in the field… will be required reading for any academic or postgraduate in the field. Powell et al. will be particularly attractive to students, coming with a very reasonable price.” "
Siân E. Halcrow

"“…a quote from the preface provided by Professor Charlotte Roberts is particularly apt – this volume is set to ‘become essential reading for those working in this field.’ …this volume offers food for thought for those working within the interdisciplinary field of the medical humanities.” "

Durham Centre for Medical Humanities ()

"“I believe that Care in the Past will achieve its aim of becoming essential reading for both medical practitioners and medical historians. With the NHS still reeling from the revelations of the 2013 Francis Report, the Palaeolithic perspective brings both a comfort and a challenge.” "
Andrew N. Williams
British Society for the History of Medicine (March 2017)

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