Health and the experience of childhood in late Neolithic Viet Nam

Marc Oxenham*, Hirofumi Matsumura, Kate Domett, Nguyen Kim Thuy, Nguyen Kim Dung, Nguyen Lan Cuong, Damien Huffer, Sarah Muller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The article aims to examine aspects of mortuary behavior in late Neolithic/early Bronze Age (Phung Nguyen phase) populations represented at the site of Man Bac in Viet Nam, specifically how mortuary behavior illuminates the role of children, and adult attitudes toward children. In addition, the authors discuss biological characteristics of the human sample, focusing particularly on the child burials, in order to explore aspects of childhood palaeohealth. The methodology includes combining various measures of health-including palaeodemography (childhood mortality), analysis of oral health (Early Childhood Caries or ECC), and analysis of physiological health (Cribra Orbitalia and LEH)-with studies of culturally defined mortuary practices to suggest that, while children clearly had significant health deficiencies and many suffered early deaths, their treatment in mortuary rites shows significant economic value and social esteem placed on children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-209
Number of pages20
JournalAsian Perspectives
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Bioarchaeology
  • Childhood
  • Health
  • Mortuary behavior
  • Neolithic
  • Palaeodemography
  • Viet nam


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