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Ref ID: 36268
Ref Type: Thesis
Authors: Willis, Anna Corinna Juanita
Title: The bioarchaeology of An Son and Hoa Diem: biosocial insights into prehistoric southern Vietnam
Date: 2015
Place of Publication: Canberra
Publisher: Australian National University
Type: PhD
Notes: Unpublished
Abstract: This thesis investigated the lifeways of two prehistoric Vietnamese communities, An Sơn from southern Vietnam and Hòa Diêm from the south central coast of Vietnam, representing two temporally distinct periods. Three themes were employed to assess and situate the health and behaviour of these people 1) health as an indicator of childhood stress 2) oral health and extramasticatory modifications and 3) palaeodiet. The interpretation of these key factors were undertaken with a consideration of the local natural and cultural environments, drawing comparisons and further contextualising the findings within the wider Southeast Asian bioarchaeological context. Using standard bioarchaeological approaches the following results were obtained: childhood stress was generally worse during the Neolithic and improved over the Bronze and Iron Ages, oral health was significantly worse for females, particularly in the Neolithic and palaeodiet was consistent with the local zooarchaeological and environmental information available. In interpreting the evidence for health as an indicator of childhood stress, oral health and extramasticatory modifications and palaeodiet, four metathemes of population history, connectivity, the Neolithic Demographic Transition and the osteological paradox were developed as a conceptual framework in which to explore these health indicators. The population affinities of both An Sơn and Hòa Diêm support the notion of genetic exchange between indigenous and migrating populations, albeit of different groups during different time periods. These observations play directly into what we know about connectivity and the complexity of regional mobility in the past. Large scale interaction spheres operating independently during the Neolithic and the Iron Age are supported by the evidence for the population history of the region. Contextualising palaeodiet with other assemblages that were part of these interaction spheres suggests that diet was consistent with the expected outcomes from the local environmental information at a regional level. Consistent with the population history in the region and the migration of northeast Asians into Southeast Asia, the subsequent period presents the key characteristics of a Neolithic Demographic Transition. This period witnessed an explosion in population growth and fertility largely fuelled by factors such as the establishment of sedentary communities by those with a knowledge of agriculture and domestication, providing a constant and sustainable supply of food conducive to shorter birthing intervals. Comparing oral health with other assemblages in Southeast Asia suggests that there was a decline in oral health during the Neolithic Demographic Transition, but this was largely influenced by a decline in female oral health. The main reason for this decline in oral health was related to elevated levels of fertility and a clinically demonstrated predisposition to poor oral health exacerbated by pregnancy. The significant degree of demic diffusion characterising the population history of the region, in addition to a complex but important degree of connectivity during both the Neolithic Demographic Transition and the Iron Age had implications for understanding childhood health as these were not necessarily biologically homogenous or stationary populations. Notwithstanding, this study found that childhood stress was generally worse during the Neolithic and improved over the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Date Created: 10/11/2017