Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (04): 458-471.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0026

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Palaeopathology of children from the Shuanghuaishu Neolithic site in Henan Province

ZHOU Yawei1(), YU Yating1, GU Wanfa2   

  1. 1. History College of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001
    2. Zhengzhou Institute of Cultural Releics and Archaeology, Zhengzhou 450001
  • Received:2022-03-04 Revised:2022-08-29 Online:2023-08-15 Published:2023-08-10


This study presents a palaeopathological analysis of 14 children’s bones that were excavated from the Shuanghuaishu site in Gongyi City, Henan Province, central China. Since 2020, a total of 328 human skeletons have been excavated from this site, including 299 adult skeletons, 14 child skeletons, and 15 cases of unknown age. Osteological analysis revealed a number of pathological indicators concerning age at death, state of health, and living environment of children from the Late Yangshao Neolithic site (approx. 5300BP). The 14 non-adults were found in two cemeteries called Area I and Area II, respectively. Skeletons of children from Burial Area I (n=9) and Burial Area II(n=5) showed varying degrees of pathology and trauma. Among them, peak age of death in both Area I and Area II was between 5 and 10 years. In Area I, the caries rate of children was high at 75% (n=12), of which the caries rate of deciduous teeth was 21.54% whereas the caries rate of permanent teeth was 5.26%. Caries rate of maxillary deciduous teeth was higher than that of mandibular deciduous teeth, with the maxillary permanent teeth having a lower caries rate than the mandibular permanent teeth. Molars were more severely affected and had higher rates of caries as well as degrees of carious lesions compared to incisors and canines, and a grade 3 of deciduous teeth carious lesion was more common. However, compared with Area I the caries rate of children in Area II was 0. To better understand oral hygiene conditions of Shuanghuaishu children, this study did a comparative analysis of nearby Yangshao sites in Henan Province, and also of modern children. The result showed that for both Area I and Area II, malplastic tooth enamel, cribra orbitalia, Harris’ lines and trauma were found. Conclusions of this work are as follows: carious lesion pattern found at the Shuanghuaishu site may be related to typical agricultural diets of Yangshao people and along with complexity of cultural features and lifestyles; a poor level of enamel development; perhaps poor oral hygiene conditions; and a high carbohydrate such as plant-based diet. In comparison, children in Area II had better tooth alignment, oral hygiene and dietary conditions. Palaeopathological evidence from dentition of children at Shuanghuaishu in the late Yangshao period showed that there was malnutrition, anemia and other survival pressures, as well as a few individuals suffering from abuse and violent trauma.

Key words: Children, Skeletal archaeology, Dental caries, Violence

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