Feeding babies at the beginnings of urbanization in Central Europe

Katharina Rebay-Salisbury, Julie B Dunne, Roderick B. Salisbury, Daniela Kern, Alexander Frisch, Richard P Evershed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Small ceramic vessels with spouts, from which liquid can be poured, became popular during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages in Central Europe (c. 1200-600 BC). Such feeding vessels represent a functional type and are highly variable in size, shape and decoration. Found both on settlements and within graves, their association with child burials suggest they might have been used to feed babies and small children. Combined lipid and isotope analysis was carried out on 24 of these feeding vessels, with seven delivering interpretable results. Feeding vessels associated with child burials tend to deliver a ruminant milk signal, whereas other vessels were used to process ruminant and non-ruminant adipose fats. Here, we highlight the potential significance of feeding vessels as indicators of changing childcare practices during times of population increase, settlement nucleation and mobility, possibly involving out-sourcing the feeding of babies and small children to persons other than the mother.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChildhood in the Past
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jan 2021


  • Milk
  • Baby Bottles
  • feeding vessels
  • Bronze Age
  • Iron Age
  • organic residue analysis
  • isotopes

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