Morphometric affinity of the late Neolithic human remains from Man Bac, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam: Key skeletons with which to debate the two layer hypothesis

Hirofumi Matsumura*, Marc F. Oxenham, Yukio Dodo, Kate Domett, Nguyen Kim Thuy, Nguyen Lan Cuong, Nguyen Kim Dung, Damien Huffer, Mariko Yamagata

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


The excavation of the Man Bac site (c. 3800-3500 years BP) in Ninh Binh Province, Northern Vietnam, yielded a large mortuary assemblage. A total of 31 inhumations were recovered during the 2004-2005 excavation. Multivariate comparisons using cranial and dental metrics demonstrated close affinities of the Man Bac people to later early Metal Age Dong Son Vietnamese and early and modern samples from southern China including the Neolithic to Western Han period samples from the Yangtze Basin. In contrast, large morphological gaps were found between the Man Bac people, except for a single individual, and the other earlier prehistoric Vietnamese samples represented by Hoabinhian and early Neolithic Bac Son and Da But cultural contexts. These findings suggest the initial appearance of immigrants in northern Vietnam, who were biologically related to pre- or early historic population stocks in northern or eastern peripheral areas, including Southern China. The Man Bac skeletons support the 'two-layer' hypothesis in discussions pertaining to the population history of South-east Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalAnthropological Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2008



  • Human remains
  • Late neolithic
  • Man Bac
  • Two-layer hypothesis
  • Vietnam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

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