Skip to main content

Are the early Holocene cattle in the eastern Sahara domestic or wild?

"Questions relating to the antiquity of domestic cattle in the Sahara are among the most controversial in North African prehistory. It is generally believed that cattle were first domesticated in southwest Asia, particularly Anatolia, or in southeast Europe, where their remains have been found in several sites dated between 9,000 and 8,000 years ago. The discovery, in several small sites in the Western Desert of Egypt, of large bovid bones identified as domestic cattle and having radiocarbon dates ranging between 9,500 and 8,000 B.P. has raised the possibility that there was a separate, independent center for cattle domestication in northeast Africa. However, it has not been universally accepted that these bones are from cattle or, if so, that the cattle were domestic. Disputes about the large bovid remains and whether or not they represent domestic cattle do not have to do only with issues of primacy and the multiple independent developments of pastoralism and food production. Of greater importance, perhaps, is the possible role of pastoralism in facilitating human exploitation of harsh, unfavorable environments and the adjustments people made to live in them. Examination of the data may help us understand the processes involved in the development of pastoralist societies."

Author(s):  Wendorf, Fred; Schild, Romuald
Format:  Article
Publisher:  The Antiquity of Man: Exploring human evolution and the dawn of civilisation
Source:  Evolutionary Anthropology 3, No. 4, 1994
Subject(s):