Hunter-gatherer specialization in the late Neolithic of southern Vietnam – The case of Rach Nui

Cristina Cobo Castillo*, Dorian Q. Fuller, Philip J. Piper, Peter Bellwood, Marc Oxenham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Rach Nui is a late Neolithic settlement of hunter-gatherers in southern Vietnam. However, the site also has a series of mortared floors corresponding to a sedentary lifestyle, where the inhabitants continued to live in the same area and repaired or replaced their floors over a period of 150 years. The inhabitants relied on a mixed economy that included domesticated and gathered plants, as well as hunted and managed animals. Although, there is evidence for the consumption of domesticated rice and foxtail millet, the inhabitants were mainly hunter-gatherers who relied on their surrounding mangrove and swamp forest habitats for most of their food requirements. From the archaeobotanical work done, it appears that the domesticated cereals, rice and foxtail millet, found at the site were imported. On the other hand, sedge nutlets and parenchyma were identified in high frequencies and were probably locally sourced, suggesting that foraging and/or vegeculture played a major role in the economy of Rach Nui.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary International
Early online date12 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

This study would not have been possible without the help from Ma. Jasminda Ceron who undertook flotation in Castillo's behalf when she left Vietnam for an emergency. We would also like to thank Bùi Chí Hoàng, Nguyễn Khánh Trung Kiên and Nguyễn Quốc Mạnh from the Centre for Archaeological Studies, Southern Institute of Social Sciences, Vietnam; Glenn Estudillo from the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI); and Marciana R. San Pablo, Karina G. Bueser, and Sheryll C Micosa from Biodeterioration and Protection Section, Material Science Division, Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) in Los Baños, Philippines for helping Castillo acquire modern termite frass. Lastly, we would like to thank Andrew Fairbairn and Ofer Bar-Yosef who held the UQ-Harvard Symposium at the University of Queensland, 23–25 March 2014 and where two of the authors were invited to participate. This research was supported by the Australian Research Council Grant # FT120100299 and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Grant # NE/K003402/1.


  • Agriculture
  • Archaeobotany
  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Sedentary
  • Southeast Asia


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