This thesis uses an interdisciplinary analysis of the theories involving cultural ideas of childhood, as well as archaeological approaches to studying the funerary material culture related to children, in an attempt to determine the role of children in ancient Egypt. To achieve this, the author examines grave goods in relation to child burials from the Predynastic (5000-3200 BC) to the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) to examine the correlation between funerary material cultures with different stages of childhood. The author used these time periods in order to properly conduct an in depth analysis of early Egyptian culture. The author also analyzes changes in body containers, body positions, and burial locations that might indicate possible shifts in cultural ideas of children. The large time frame and numerous cemeteries provide context to these changes through different periods. The cemeteries used in this study are at the sites of: Abydos, Adaima, el Amrah, Badari, Ballas, Beni Hasan, Deir el Bersha, Elephantine, Harageh, Heliopolis, Hemamieh, Lahun, Maadi, el Mahasna, Matmar, Mostagedda, Naga ed Der, Naqada, Qau, Riqqeh, Tell el Dab’a (Avaris), ‘Ain Asil, Tell el Farkha, and Tell Ibrahim Awad.

The author applies the archaeological theory of childhood to the research that argues: firstly, children were important members of their society; secondly, childhood is both a biological and cultural construct; and finally, children possessed material culture. The combination of funerary archaeology and childhood studies provides insights to the cultural ideas of childhood in ancient Egypt. The grave goods associated with children are analyzed to better understand what a child in ancient Egypt was in terms of cultural age, the status of children, and the concept of childhood. A comparison between sites and time periods shows differences in quantity of grave goods, as well as body containers, hence revealing varying cultural changes in ancient Egyptian childhood over time.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Sociology, Egyptology & Anthroplology Department

Degree Name

MA in Egyptology & Coptology

Graduation Date

Fall 9-2022

Submission Date


First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Sabbahy

Committee Member 1

Dr. Salima Ikram

Committee Member 2

Dr. Anne-Clarie Salmas


378 leaves

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item

Available for download on Wednesday, September 04, 2024