A paraplegic child survived to adulthood, 4,000 years ago!

The Canberra Times has a fascinating article about researchers from the Australian National University finding in Vietnam the 4,000 year old skeleton of a man who was a paraplegic, which they can tell because the vertebrae are fused.

The amazing thing is the problem must have been obvious even as a child, yet he lived to be about 25. That's an unbelievable record. Everything we know indicates life was pretty grim back then, so this is a real feel good story.

The article speculates the man might have had some special skill the community needed, but that doesn't explain how he survived childhood. It seems hard to believe struggling prehistoric communities were going to fight to keep everyone alive. Maybe he had very special parents, either by position or compassion? Or maybe, just as some religions today hold that children born at certain times are especially blessed or chosen, this child fluked a birth which guaranteed he'd be cared for?

9 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

Interesting stuff. I'd like to think that there was some humanity among humans, even back then. Maybe that's why he survived?
By the way Gary, congrats on your book deal and the awesome literary agent. I can't wait until it comes out next year. It is next year, right?

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Tabitha. Yes, the first book is scheduled for release in the US roundabout September next year. I am very excited! And working away on the sequels. Thanks for the reminder, I'll post a status update soon.

I like the humanity theory too, but unfortunately when resources are drastically short, hard decisions have to be made, which is what makes this story so pleasantly amazing.

Jinx said...

Oh, I love reading about things like this! Thanks for posting it, Gary. Truly exceptional.

Shadows said...

I'm thinking either someone aided him in survival or it may have been a plain good old fashioned Mama Bear that said "Take this child over my dead body." Because we love our children, now matter what their shortcomings may be.

Mimzy said...

Not all of the ancient world was like the Spartans, Gary! Just because someone was born with a physical handicap doesn't mean every culture would automatically kill them.

Personally, I'm going to guess that he was a very lucky boy and was born during a period of time where there was plenty of food around. Even ancient humans were still human and I would hope that the reason he survived was because his family simply were able to take care of him. While he could be born under a fortuitous sign that could encourage the family to raise them, I really hope it was just because they wanted to.

Gary Corby said...

Okay! Seems like we have consensus for a compassionate family and/or community in Vietnam circa 2000BC.

Mimzy's right, it definitely would not have happened in ancient or classical Greece, but I'm very glad it did somewhere.

Tabitha Bird said...

Hey Gary, I have nominated you for a blogging award. if you are in to those and want to come swing by my blog and pick it up you are most welcome.

Gary Corby said...

Oh! Thanks Tabitha!

Chris Eldin said...

LOVE this story! I"ll have to come back here more often for these interesting tidbits.
I also go with the humanity story. But maybe there was something else... he had some kind of talent, or knack for storytelling...kept people around him.