Repository logo

Infanticide or demographic expectation?: the curious abundance of children's remains in the Iron Age necropolis at Kopila Hillfort, Korčula, Croatia




Dern, Laresa L., author
Glantz, Michelle, advisor
Radovčić, Davorka, committee member
Lacy, Michael, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Most archaeological sites yield few sub-adult remains and when recovered they are often too poorly preserved for analysis. A lack of children in the archaeological record limits our perspective on variation in human growth and development and the history of children in the past. In this context, the high representation of children in the abundant collection of remains from a Late Iron Age Illyrian necropolis on the island of Korčula, Croatia is somewhat curious and a remarkable resource. Is this curious pattern the result of an unusual preservation pattern, differential burial practices, or infanticide? Notably, large deposits of infants from Classical Antiquity and the Iron Age Mediterranean are controversially interpreted as the byproduct of infanticide. This study estimates age-at-death for 1177 isolated teeth from three tombs via assessment of dental development using Moorrees' and Irurita's systems, as well as Liversidge's tooth length regression formulas. The resulting relative age profiles are employed to test the null hypothesis that the assemblages are unusually preserved multiple-inhumation, family tombs, rather than tombs specifically designated for sub-adults or exclusively for the victims of infanticide. The unique size and quality of this sample allows for a refined reconstruction of age-at-death and examination of growth and development patterns in the Iron Age Adriatic. Despite, a lack of adult dental age estimates, the presence of adult post-crania and the low volume of remains suggests that Tomb 3 is a multiple inhumation family tomb. Alternatively, Tombs 1 and 7 appear to exclusively contain sub-adults, with a wide age range, who received differential burial treatment. Infanticide does not appear to be the impetus for any of the tombs, although the results do not preclude the possibility that some of the individuals included in the deposit were victims of infanticide. Future research will expand on these results with analysis of dental non-metric traits and post-cranial remains.


Rights Access


dental age estimation
Iron Age


Associated Publications