Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Prehistoric People Cared for the Sick and Disabled

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA—Lorna Tilley and Marc Oxenham of Australian National University say that a 4,000-year-old skeleton uncovered in northern Vietnam shows that the prehistoric people of Man Bac cared for the sick and disabled among them. The person suffered from fused vertebrae and weak bones, and probably eventually became paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a congenital disease. This ancient skeleton is one of about 30 examples in the world of someone who received care from others in order to make survival possible. “The provision and receipt of health care may therefore reflect some of the most fundamental aspects of a culture,” they conclude.