Paralysis and severe disability requiring intensive care in Neolithic Asia

Marc F. Oxenham*, Lorna Tilley, Hirofumi Matsumura, Lan Cuong Nguyen, Kim Thuy Nguyen, Kim Dung Nguyen, Kate Domett, Damien Huffer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


This communication documents one of the earliest verifiable cases of human paralysis associated with severe spinal pathology. A series of skeletal abnormalities is described for a young adult male (M9) from a Southeast Asian Neolithic community. Differential diagnosis suggests that M9 suffered from a severely disabling congenital fusion of the spine (Klippel-Feil Syndrome, Type III), resulting in child-onset lower body paralysis at a minimum (maximally quadriplegia). M9 experienced severe, most probably total, incapacitation for at least a decade prior to death. In the prehistoric context, this individual's condition would have rendered him completely dependent on others for survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalAnthropological Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009



  • Juvenile-onset
  • Klippel-Feil
  • Quadriparesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

Cite this

Oxenham, M. F., Tilley, L., Matsumura, H., Nguyen, L. C., Nguyen, K. T., Nguyen, K. D., ... Huffer, D. (2009). Paralysis and severe disability requiring intensive care in Neolithic Asia. Anthropological Science, 117(2), 107-112.