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 journalArticlepeer-review

37 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


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