Child’s burial site 

Castellet de Bernabé (Llíria, Valencia)

Gender and life cycle
Gender identity

In the Iberian world, the death of infants, foetuses and newborns was generally dealt with differently from other, older individuals: rather than being cremated and placed in cemeteries, they were buried inside the house. The Castellet de Bernabé site has produced 14 child burials, the majority aged no more than two weeks. Their remains give rise to an interesting debate: whether or not gender was assigned at such an important stage of the life cycle as birth and the first weeks of life, as there appear to be no obvious markers.

If this is the case, it may mean that in Iberian society, definition of the newborn’s identity did not take place until they had reached a specific age. The burial selected for the rereading may testify to this, as it clearly stands out from the rest: in addition to being significantly older (5–7 months), the remains are accompanied by grave goods with considerable symbolic value.