School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Emma Gooch

Emma Gooch

The Material Culture of Children in Ancient Greece: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Identity

Year started


Project outline

My research investigates the social identities and visibility of children in Geometric, Archaic and Classical Greece (9th to 4th centuries BC). Using archaeological, iconographical and literary evidence, I will identify and interpret material culture used to construct identities of children during their extended life course; throughout life and into death. My approach is diachronic and holistic, synthesising approaches used in childhood in the past studies and in household archaeology. My project addresses the following research questions:

- What are the material culture assemblages associated with children and how did they change throughout life and into death in Geometric, Archaic and Classical Greece?
- What does material culture associated with children reveal about their social identities in Geometric, Archaic and Classical Greece?
- To what extent was there continuity in the identities and social visibility of children, demonstrated iconographically and archaeologically, and how did this relate to socio-political change throughout Geometric, Archaic and Classical Greece?

My methodology uses iconography, ancient literature and mortuary evidence to identify signifiers of children and to inform analyses of the archaeological distribution of those signifiers in domestic contexts. It aims to improve understandings of the materiality of children in houses and, from there, their places in ancient Greek society.

My broader research interests include:
- Children and childhood in the past
- Iconography, especially on Greek red-figure pottery
- Household archaeology of Ancient Greece
- Artefact distribution analysis

Funding awards

Northern Bridge DTP AHRC Studentship (2018-2020)
Andrew Smith Memorial Bursary (2018)


Waite, S. and Gooch, E. (2018) ‘Sandals on the Wall: The Symbolism of Footwear on Athenian Painted Pottery’, in S. Pickup and S. Waite (eds.) Shoes, Slippers and Sandals: Feet and Footwear in Classical Antiquity. London: Routledge.

Academic qualifications

MA Archaeology: Newcastle University, 2016 (Distinction)
BA (Hons) Ancient History and Archaeology: Newcastle University, 2014 (First Class)


The RM Harrison Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation
The Richmond Prize for Best Performance in Stage 2