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Children’s urban environments in an ancient city: social and physical realities

Pudsey, April and Vuolanto, Ville (2021) Children’s urban environments in an ancient city: social and physical realities. Childhood in the Past, 14 (2). pp. 161-176. ISSN 1758-5716

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The crucial roles played by young people in the lives of ancient urban and civic spaces has been underestimated – or, indeed, omitted from discussions of urban life. Through our case study of a large city in Roman Egypt, we scrutinise expectations placed on young people, the specific roles they would have taken in these environments, and their agency in shaping, and responding to, the expectations and demands placed on them by their physical and social environments. The discussion addresses three major themes: young people’s visibility and accessibility within the city scape; expectations placed on young people and their agency in responding to them; and the geographical and practical limits of movement for young people. The research is based on our systematic and comprehensive search of papyri from the Roman Egyptian metropolis of Oxyrhynchos and its administrative area, from late first century BCE to sixth century CE, and a resulting database of over 700 cases mentioning children and young people.

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