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Between foraging and farming: strategic responses to the Holocene Thermal Maximum in Southeast Asia

  • Marc F. Oxenham (a1), Hiep Hoang Trinh (a2), Anna Willis (a3), Rebecca K. Jones (a1), Kathryn Domett (a4), Cristina Castillo (a5), Rachel Wood (a1), Peter Bellwood (a1), Monica Tromp (a6) (a7), Ainslee Kells (a1), Philip Piper (a1), Son Thanh Pham (a8), Hirofumi Matsumura (a9) and Hallie Buckley (a7)...
Abstract

Large, ‘complex’ pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherer communities thrived in southern China and northern Vietnam, contemporaneous with the expansion of farming. Research at Con Co Ngua in Vietnam suggests that such hunter-gatherer populations shared characteristics with early farming communities: high disease loads, pottery, complex mortuary practices and access to stable sources of carbohydrates and protein. The substantive difference was in the use of domesticated plants and animals—effectively representing alternative responses to optimal climatic conditions. The work here suggests that the supposed correlation between farming and a decline in health may need to be reassessed.

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*Author for correspondence (Email: marc.oxenham@anu.edu.au)
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