Childhood in late Neolithic Vietnam: bio-mortuary insights into an ambiguous life stage

Oxenham, Marc, Matsumura, Hirofumi, Domett, Kate, Nguyen, Kim Thuy, Nguyen, Kim Dung, Nguyen, Lan Cuong, Huffer, Damien, and Muller, Sarah (2008) Childhood in late Neolithic Vietnam: bio-mortuary insights into an ambiguous life stage. In: Bacvarov, Krum, (ed.) Babies Reborn: infant/child burials in pre- and protohistory. BAR International Series 1832, 24 . Archaeopress, Oxford, UK, pp. 123-136.

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Abstract

This paper looks at a late Neolithic cemetery site dated to approximately 3500 years BP in northern Vietnam. The purpose is to: (1) use the techniques of mortuary archaeology to shed light on the role of children and adult attitudes towards children at this site; and (2) assess the level of health and well being of the children. Mortuary methods included an examination of a range of traits including burial position and orientation as well as the number and manner of grave furniture in respect to age-at-death and sex where possible. In terms of health, measures or signatures of cribra orbitalia, enamel hypoplasia and oral health were investigated. It was found that many of the non-surviving children at Man Bac suffered from physiological insult and severe dental caries. Fertility was elevated in comparison to other prehistoric Southeast Asian skeletal assemblages and the number of living children at Man Bac, at any given name, was likely elevated. Despite high infant mortality, all individuals, regardless of age, received some form of mortuary treatment. The nature and type of mortuary treatment at Man Bac suggests children were recognised as members of the community, with economic and social value. There is some indication that different developmental and/or social stages were recoginised through mortuary treatment and that childhood may have finished rather early, in terms of chronological age, at Man Bac.

Item ID: 7317
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
Keywords: Vietnam; Neolithic; childhood; health; mortuary; behaviour
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ISBN: 978-1-4073-0316-1
Date Deposited: 08 May 2010 01:00
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160102 Biological (Physical) Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950502 Understanding Asias Past @ 100%
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