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Tiny Voices From the Past: New Perspectives on Childhood in Early Europe

The project (2013-2016) studies the lives of children and attitudes to childhood at a formative stage of European culture: Antiquity and the Early/High Middle Ages. The project covers the period from the fifth century BC to the twelfth century AD, but with an emphasis on the period from the first to the eight century.

Children playing ball games. Marble, Roman artwork of the second quarter of the 2nd century AD. Provenance unknown. Louvre Museum, Paris, France. Campana Collection; purchased in 1861. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (2009) Kilde: Wikimedia Commons

The project focuses particularly on three types of material:

  1. Early Christian apocryphal stories about the childhoods of Jesus and his mother Mary (the Infancy Gospels of Thomas and James),
  2. Works by central thinkers (philosophical, theological, political) which reflect different notions about children and childhood, and
  3. Material and remains that can in various ways document the lives and experiences of the children themselves (children’s letters, papyrus documents, toys, stories etc.).

The material is studied with a conscious view to "finding" children in the sources, whether they speak directly of children or use metaphors taken from the domain of childhood. The project will pay attention to continuities and changes in the attitudes to children through the centuries, and also study the sources with an awareness of the difference that gender made in the lives of children.

Further information about background, methology and scope of the project can be found here (Pdf).

Children in the Ancient World and the Early Middle Ages: A Bibliography for Scholars and Students

An up-to-date version (Dec. 2016) of this bibliography is available, currently counting 2186 entries. The bibliography will be updated annually. Those interested are more than welcome to propose additions and corrections. These can be sent to Ville Vuolanto at

The complete bibliography can be found here (Pdf).


We will occasionally issue updates on the activities of the project. To subscribe to the “Tiny Voices” newsletter, contact project leader Reidar Aasgaard at


Original project description

Published Apr. 13, 2010 4:13 PM - Last modified Jan. 3, 2017 10:26 AM


Reidar Aasgaard


Phone: +47-22854917