“I could not alleviate her mother’s grief”: On the loss of children

At birth, there was only a 66 per cent chance of celebrating your first birthday: one-third of all new-borns in the ancient world died before reaching that milestone. Once a child reached the age of five, their life-expectancy rose considerably, but the loss of at least one child was something that every parent experienced. While … More “I could not alleviate her mother’s grief”: On the loss of children

“If God saves him from death”: Donation of a boy to a Coptic monastery

On the 29 August 766 CE, a woman named Tachel daughter of Sophia from Luxor (ancient Apê) donated her son Athanasius to a local monastery, the monastery of Apa Phoibammon at Deir el-Bahri. “In this current 5thindiction year, an infant boy was born to me, the woman and free person Tachel, in his seventh month. … More “If God saves him from death”: Donation of a boy to a Coptic monastery

Baby Exposed, Baby Snatched, Roman Egypt-Style

*GUEST POST by Katherine Blouin (see her bio here)   Babies being abandoned by or snatched from their family is, sadly, not a recent phenomenon. One papyrus from 1st-century CE Oxyrhynchus offers a glimpse into how these scenarios were legally dealt with when Egypt was ruled by the Romans. The document contains extracts from the … More Baby Exposed, Baby Snatched, Roman Egypt-Style

Death in the Desert

Photo of Dakhla Oasis by Dr Caleb Hamilton, who excavated at Kellis as part of the Monash team (for more of his photos, see his Instagram account maoriegyptologist) Life in the ancient world, before the development of modern medicine, was hard. Child mortality rates were high, life-expectancy was much lower than it is today, and illnesses … More Death in the Desert