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Health and the Experience of Childhood in Late Neolithic Viet Nam

From: Asian Perspectives
Volume 47, Number 2, Fall 2008
pp. 190-209 | 10.1353/asi.0.0001



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.

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