Con Co Ngua, the oldest (5,500-6,000 BP) Hunter-Gatherer Cemetery in Southeast Asia

Start: Apr 04, 2014 05:00 PM
End: Apr 04, 2014 06:00 PM

Location: Room 612, Institute of Archaeology

Con Co Ngua, the oldest (5,500-6,000 BP) Hunter-Gatherer Cemetery in Southeast Asia

Marc Oxenham (Australia National University) will give a seminar sponsored by the Archaeological Sciences Section at the Institute on 4 April.


Con Co Ngua is a water logged cemetery and midden site situated in a low lying valley, 3 km from the Ma River and some 30km from the current coastline in Thanh Hoa province, Northern Vietnam. It was first excavated in 1979-1980 by the Institute of Archaeology, Hanoi revealing approximately 100 burials and a wealth of lithics, coarse pottery and animal remains. Unfortunately, few excavation records were kept thus limiting our understanding of the stratigraphy, dating and distribution of burials in the site.

In 2013 Dr Oxenham led a 2 month excavation of a 12 x 7m trench that uncovered 146 human burials. In this presentation he will discuss the context of this somewhat unique mid-Holocene hunter-gatherer cemetery as a prelude to some preliminary observations on the demographic composition of the cemetery, the spatial patterning of the burials, including orientation, and the deposition of the burials (with particular attention to the manner of internment using field anthropology approaches), and, finally, the apparent change in burial practices from the early phases through to final phase. He will also provide some tentative interpretations of these findings in the context of what is the oldest pre-Neolithic pottery using forager cemetery in Southeast Asia.

Dr Oxenham is Head of Bioanthropology at ANU's School of Archaeology and Anthropology.  His main research has concentrated on exploring aspects of human palaeohealth, palaeopathology and behaviour by way of analyses of human skeletal and dental material.

All welcome!

Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Cristina Castillo.