Oral pathology at Khok Charoen, late Neolithic Central Thailand
David Bulbeck (The Australian National University)
Paper short abstract:
Evidence for food production from the Khok Charoen Neolithic burials includes ante mortem tooth loss, dental caries and maleruption of the molars. Khok Charoen aligns with other Southeast Asian Neolithic sites where agriculture can be inferred but only from bioarchaeological analysis of the skeletal remains.
Paper long abstract:
The late Neolithic burials at Khok Charoen, Central Thailand have a direct bone date of 2853+33 BP. The 36 individuals identified by the late Sood Sangvichien and by the author present a young age profile (31% aged 6 years or less at death, 8% aged 12-17 years and 61% adults). Evidence for an agricultural component in the subsistence economy has not been published but is indicated by the oral pathology observed on the burials. Ante mortem tooth loss was recorded on seven of 11 adult individuals, increasing in incidence with progressive age. Dental caries, usually at a mild stage of development, was recorded on five of eight recorded individuals, including one teenager. Two of the ten adults with at least half of their dentition intact exhibited maleruption of the molars. In addition, betelnut staining was evident on two of the seven recorded adults. Khok Charoen aligns with various other Neolithic sites in Mainland Southeast Asia where some degree of agriculture can be inferred but only from bio-archaeological analysis of the skeletal remains. This observation suggests that bio-archaeology may be more sensitive to registering low levels of food production than other lines of archaeological enquiry.