Emergence and Diversification of the Neolithic in Southern Vietnam: Insights From Coastal Rach Nui

Marc F. Oxenham*, Philip J. Piper, Peter Bellwood, Chi Hoang Bui, Khanh Trung Kien Nguyen, Quoc Manh Nguyen, Fredeliza Campos, Cristina Castillo, Rachel Wood, Carmen Sarjeant, Noel Amano, Anna Willis, Jasminda Ceron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the southern Vietnamese site of Rach Nui, dated to between 3390 and 3850 cal BP, in the context of three major aspects of the Neolithic in Mainland Southeast Asia: mound formation and chronology, construction techniques, and subsistence economy. Results indicate that this ca. 75 m in diameter, 5 m high mound, comprising over a dozen phases of earthen platforms, upon which were raised sophisticated wooden structures, was built in <200 years. While consuming domesticated millet, rice, and occasionally dogs and pigs, the main subsistence orientation included managed tubers and fruits and a range of mangrove ecosystem taxa: catfishes, turtles, crocodiles, monitor lizards, macaques and langurs, to name a few. This combined vegeculture-foraging lifeway in a mangrove forested environment, likely in the context of a tradable goods extractive industry, adds to a growing picture of significant diversity, and sophisticated construction skills in the Southeast Asian Neolithic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-338
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Issue number3
Early online date13 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Enormous thanks to the archaeologists and support team (Dang Ngoc Kinh, Le Hoang Phong, Nguyen Yen Hoang Linh, Bui Xuan Long, Van Ngoc Bich, and Do Thi Lan) involved in the Rach Nui project, including all local villagers. Further, the help and assistance of the Long An Provincial Museum was crucial to the success of this project: Director Bui Phat Diem and Deputy Director Vuong Thu Hong.
This research was supported by the Australian Research Council, grants DP1101010
97, FT 120100299, and FT100100527.


  • building technology
  • coastal adaptation
  • mangrove ecosystem
  • mound construction
  • vegeculture-foraging subsistence


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