Archaeologists have excavated a 3,400-year-old burial site in south Vietnam, that they claim suggests that hild mortality in the ancient world was treated as something very common.
An international team, which carried out the excavation of the site named An Son, has uncovered the oldest clear evidence of rice agriculture in the region too.
According to their findings, death in young children was so common that community members were unlikely to revere the death of their offspring until they had survived for more than five years.
"The burial of a new born baby without any associated grave goods and positioned within discarded kitchen material may suggest high levels of infant mortality, as well as a reduced emotional investment in very young children that may not live long anyway.
"On the other hand, the burial of a 12-year-old child with high quality ceramics and stone tools might mean children that survived the danger years -- birth to five years old in most cases -- could be revered by family or community members in death," Prof Peter Bellwood of ANU School of Archaeology, who led the team, said.
In fact, the excavation has also revealed the oldest clear evidence of rice agriculture in southern Vietnam and uncovered the varied diets and agricultural practices of the pre-historic community.
"While this excavation has revealed the earliest clear evidence of rice agriculture in southern Vietnam, their diets were extremely broad.
"A wealth of animal bones -- some probably domesticated -- attest to the dietary breadth of these early Vietnamese, including species of cattle, pig, deer, freshwater crocodile, shellfish and reptile and amphibian remains.
"We also found a large number of stone adzes, many shouldered to accommodate long-since rotted wooden handles. That suggests a significant amount of forest clearance was occurring, presumably to increase the area of cultivatable land," team member Dr Marc Oxenham said.
The excavation team has also found a large quantity of pottery from humble cooking vessels to massive, ornately-incised and patterned ceramics.