Emerging Adolescence Current Status and Potential Advances in Bioarchaeology

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L. Creighton Avery
Mary Lewis


Adolescence is marked by a wide range of biological, social, and neurological changes. Adolescents are stereotypically viewed as reckless, impulsive, and troubled, but research across the social and biomedical sciences is demonstrating that this is a narrow view of a dynamic period of life. Now, research is showing that adolescents are frequently responsible for the creation and transmission of new ideas and practices and for the creation of new social bonds, which can contribute to personal and community growth. In short, adolescents are key to the development and success of a community. The bioarchaeological study of adolescence not only speaks to the experiences of adolescents but also captures the life of a community, especially as this period encapsulates early life experiences and lays the foundations for later adult health outcomes. Consequently, the study of adolescence in past populations provides deep-time insights into adolescence as a uniquely human experience. This special issue of Bioarchaeology International focuses on newly developing work within the bioarchaeological study of adolescence, demonstrating how researchers can use bioculturally informed research to advance our understanding of adolescence in the past. In doing so, we demonstrate where the study of adolescence has come from, where it is presently situated, and where we may take it moving forward, as the study of adolescence not only emerges but also flourishes.

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