An Analysis of the Potential Cultural and Biological Factors Influencing Child Burials in Ireland

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Mortuary practices associated with juvenile remains are often distinct from those of adults because juveniles are viewed as special members of society either in their visibility or invisibility. Further deviation can occur within juvenile mortuary practices as external forces act upon them, such as animal or human disturbance. One such practice in Ireland consists of cillin burials, areas used for unconsecrated burials, which highlight this deviation as they are mainly comprised of juveniles and are perceived as separate from traditional burials. This begs the question of what potential social and biological factors influence construction of these unique burial types, specifically is this practice culturally rooted or are there pathological conditions contributing to the separation? There will be an analysis to determine if there is a positive correlation between juvenile burials in Ireland and paleopathological conditions indicating childhood malnutrition or disease. This research examines if there is a relationship between cultural practices around juvenile death and burial and paleopathological conditions with the specific objective of understanding whether cillin burials are correlated to ailments of childhood. Juveniles are devoid of agency in life and this is reflected in their deaths, they do not bury themselves. This research could indicate potential factors that determine how those who have agency treated the juvenile remains.

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Saige Kelmelis

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