Saturday, December 28, 2019

Ancient Breastfeeding

From Ancient Origins:
Historians down the ages have examined the ebb and flow of populations in ancient societies. But most of these examinations have tended to focus on male dominated events – the wars, the politics, and the money. But there is another side to the past that struggles to be heard over the clashing of swords. It is this unreported history that our new research focuses on.

My colleagues and I at Bournemouth University and the University of Warsaw used advanced chemical techniques to study breastfeeding in some of the world’s early cities in ancient parts of Syria and Lebanon. We analyzed small pieces of bone from infants, children, and mothers interred in ancient Bronze Age cemeteries between 2800 and 1200 BC by using a technique known as stable isotopes analysis . From this we built computer models that estimated the age of weaning (the introduction of complementary foods to a breastfeeding child’s diet) and complete weaning (stopping breastfeeding entirely) in these populations.

Our research found that women seem to have exclusively breastfed their children until about the age of six months and completely stopped around the age of two and a half – earlier than was common elsewhere at this point in history. These earlier weaning times may have helped boost the population of these cities , which became flourishing centers of civilization . (Read more.)

No comments: