Childbirth in Ancient Greece

Photo credit: Nadine Korte

Photo credit: Nadine Korte

A funerary stele for a woman who died in childbirth, from the early 4th century BC in Greece. The dead woman is seated, in front of a family member who is holding the orphaned baby.  The original is housed in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

It’s a good reminder of how dangerous childbirth was before modern medicine. Especially in ancient Greece, where women were married young (think 13, 14 years old) and sometimes had 15-20 years of childbirth ahead of them, with little access to reliable birth control.

In fact, modern society tends to think that blended families (step-mothers, half-sisters, etc.) are a result of modern divorce. But it’s always been a part of life, in particular before the Industrial Revolution, when average life expectancy was so low. Most children experienced the death of at least one parent and vice versa.

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Image | This entry was posted in Ancient Greece, Ancient Times, Family Life, Museum Artefact, Women's History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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