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Infants and ill-health in the bioarchaeological record: who cares?

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Sunday, 23 September 2018
Academic background
Sciences, Health Sciences
Host campus
Associate Professor Sian Halcrow


There has been a recent surge of interest in modeling the social, economic, and emotional investment in care provision for the physically disabled in the palaeopathological literature. Human infants are born in an extreme state of helplessness and have a lengthy development phase compared with all other primates. Their immature state means that they require significant care for survival, arguably as time intensive and specialised as caring for individuals with severe health-related disabilities. However, there is very little exploration of the implications that infant and childcare has for past society. This thesis will explore stress and disease in infants and children in prehistoric Southeast Asia, and build a new theoretical model that assesses the social implications of care by assessing factors of infant and maternal health, fertility, infant feeding practices, and family and social structure.

Twitter @ancientchildren


Siân E. Halcrow. New bioarchaeological approaches to care in the past. Antiquity, 91(358), 1101-1103. 2017. doi:10.15184/aqy.2017.99

Lindsay Powell, William Southwell-Wright & Rebecca Gowland (ed.). Care in the past: archaeological and interdisciplinary perspectives. 2017.Oxford & Havertown (PA): Oxbow.

Lorna Tilley & Alecia A. Schrenk (ed.). New developments in the bioarchaeology of care: further case studies and expanded theory. 2017. Heidelberg: Springer.

Closing date Midnight, Sunday 23 September 2018 NZST (UTC+12)

For suitably qualified students, PhD scholarships may be available.

For scholarship and application details please visit the Department of Anatomy's website at

Applications will only be accepted by email to:

Specific enquiries about the project can be directed to the contact below.


Associate Professor Siân Halcrow