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BMSAP

, Volume 27, Issue 3–4, pp 142–157 | Cite as

The Bronze Age necropolis of Koh Ta Meas: insights into the health of the earliest inhabitants of the Angkor region

La nécropole de l’âge du Bronze de Koh Ta Meas : un aperçu de l’état de santé des plus anciens habitants de la région d’Angkor
Article / Article

Résumé

La fouille du site de Koh Ta Meas (Angkor, Cambodge) a révélé une nécropole partielle de l’âge du Bronze (2870 BP +/- 60) comprenant 27 sépultures. Le but de cette étude est de dévoiler les plus anciens habitants connus à ce jour dans la région d’Angkor et d’accroître la connaissance des populations du Bronze ancien en Asie du Sud-Est. Les sépultures de certains individus, probablement enveloppés dans une natte, le type d’objets funéraires ou la présence de crânes de porc, suggèrent des rituels funéraires sophistiqués, évoquant d’autres sites en Asie du Sud-Est. L’analyse des ossements montre que l’échantillon se caractérise par une petite taille et des os graciles. Les os étant mal conservés, très peu de pathologies importantes–infections, trauma–ont été recensées. Le profil de santé dentaire, en général bon à Koh Ta Meas, est en accord avec la consommation de riz, et suggère une répartition sexuelle des activités. La comparaison de ce petit groupe avec des séries de l’Age du Fer de la région indique une dégradation possible de la santé dentaire avec l’intensification de la riziculture. L’identification d’ablations dentaires à Koh Ta Meas confirme la continuité culturelle suggérée par les artéfacts archéologiques du territoire préangkorien. Comme les autres populations d’Asie du Sud-Est, les premiers habitants d’Angkor ont bénéficié d’un état de santé relativement bon, cohérent avec l’adoption de la riziculture pendant la période du bronze.

Mots clés

Bioarchéologie Cambodge Protohistoire Archéologie funéraire Paléopathologie 

Abstract

The Koh Ta Meas site, near Angkor, Cambodia, has revealed a partially excavated Bronze Age necropolis (2870 BP +/- 60) comprising 27 burials. The aim of this study is to shed light on the earliest inhabitants known to date in the Angkor region and to gain further knowledge on Early Bronze Age populations in Southeast Asia. The burials of some individuals, probably wrapped in matting, the type of funeral artefacts or the presence of pig skulls suggest sophisticated mortuary rituals and evoke other Southeast Asian sites. Analyses of the skeletal remains show that the sample individuals are characterized by a short stature and gracile bones. As expected given the poor bone preservation, we found very little significant evidence of pathology, including infections and trauma. The dental health pattern at Koh Ta Meas is generally good and consistent with the consumption of rice, and may suggest a gendered division of activities. Comparisons between this small group and Iron Age series from the region indicate a possible decline in dental health with the intensification of rice agriculture. An interesting pattern of intentional tooth ablation identified at Koh Ta Meas confirms the cultural continuity in the Pre-Angkorian region, as suggested by the archaeological evidence. As in other Southeast Asian skeletal samples, the health profile of the earliest inhabitants of Angkor is generally good and consistent with the adoption of rice agriculture during the Bronze Age.

Keywords

Bioarchaeology Cambodia Protohistory Burial archaeology Palaeopathology 

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Copyright information

© Société d'anthropologie de Paris et Springer-Verlag France 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Beni CulturaliUniversità di BolognaRavenna (RA)Italie
  2. 2.UMR CNRS 7268 ADèSAix-Marseille Université, Faculté de Médecine Secteur NordMarseille cedex 15France
  3. 3.Département de Préhistoire du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelleÉquipe de Paléontologie Humaine, UMR 7194 du CNRSParisFrance

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