Delayed Use of Food Resources among Early Holocene Foragers of the Libyan Sahara

Dismantling Dung: Delayed Use of Food Resources among Early Holocene Foragers of the Libyan Sahara

At Uan Afuda, and other Early Holocene sites of the Acacus mountains, in the Libyan Sahara, dung layers and plant accumulation are a major, but repeatedly neglected, feature of hunter-gatherer communities. To understand the formation and meaning of such features, a multidimensional analysis has been undertaken, combining micromorphological, palynological, botanical, archaeozoological, and archaeological data. The hypothesis here formulated is twofold: plant accumulations are evidence of anthropic activity aimed at the storage of fodder; and dung layers are related to a forced penning of a ruminant, very likely Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia). The exploration of these two features has hinted at the existence of a deep reciprocal relationship, which has been interpreted as the cultural control of wild Barbary sheep, leading to a delayed use of food resources. This behavior may be considered an opportunistic strategy adopted to minimize the effects of lean periods and implicates increasing cultural complexity within Late Acacus Saharan forager societies of the 9th millennium B.P.

Studying the ‘management’ of Barbary sheep (a kind of gazelle related to sheep and goats) during the Holocene. The paper points out a few flaws with Ehrets use of the terms ‘to drive’ etc in proto Northern Sudanic…

Of interest here is the evidence that the first forms of a planned or delayed use of resources in NorthAfrica were initially directed toward animal rather than plant resources. As a matter of fact, with the Proto-Northern-Sudanic, the roots dedicated to the vegetal world are grains and grindstones, not necessarily implicating either a delayed use of resources, or a possible incipient domestication. Conversely, with regard to the animal universe, the root “to drive” may be referred to a kind of hunting or also other activities. Since examples of hunting performed by means of fences are not known in North Africa, the idea that the root may be related to the driving of animals in specific areas (corrals?) appears to be appropriate. Finally, the root “to milk” is also linked to a typical secondary exploitation, as may be seen in the case of Bos exploitation at Bir Kiseiba in the eastern Sahara.

So I’m not the only person who spotted it. The fact that captured wild animals were being ‘kept’ in the Sahara not that far away from Nabta in space and time does have a bearing on the suggested cattle domestication there. A similar scenario to the Barbary sheep would seem more likely, as physically distinguishable domesticated cattle only appear along with Neolithic Asian goats and sheep, and don’t show an closer point of origin like Nabta with dates for domesticated cattle radiating out from the area (fully domesticated cattle should have been seen from dates as old as 8,300 bp in Egypt and Nubia if that were the case- but they aren’t). It would be interesting to look at the bone isotope values of pre-domestication sites in both Asia and north Africa to see it they were using dairy from tamed animals.

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11 responses to “Delayed Use of Food Resources among Early Holocene Foragers of the Libyan Sahara

  1. The extract you highlighted saying that corrals were not found in North Africa are simply false. Pictures of animals in fenced areas for hunting and otherwise are found 5000 years ago along the Nile in Egypt and Sudan, both on pottery, where ibexes and other African animals are shown surrounded by cross hatched motifs. Such motifs can be said to be fences as later Egyptian art also shows ibexes and other animals surrounded by almost identical isometric cross hatched motifs which are indeed in scenes of hunting and fishing.

    There is no question that agriculture is directly related to the ancient sustenance practices of Africans and that the idea of driving herds of cattle or other wild beasts is indeed ancient in Africa. Whether you want to call these animals domesticated or not is one thing, but to imply that Africans have not been developing systems of animal management while living in a continent teeming with wild beasts is simply hilarious.

    • You have the reading comprehension of a 5 year old Don. This is dated seriously prior to 5k ago. And k ago the Neolithic domsticated animals in Egypt were mainly Asian, not African in origin.

      There is no question that agriculture is directly related to the ancient sustenance practices of Africans

      Funny how the first domesticates were from Asia, and the first crops grow by humans were all from Asia too. Funny how all the first domesticated crops in Africa were from Asia too.

  2. Actually according to your own blog the Natufians, who straddled the area between Africa and Asia, were the first agriculturalists. So that is quite funny. And these Natufians were not in “Asia”, as in far away from Africa. And your own blog posits the “African” features of some of the remains.

    So yes it indeed funny how you call that “Asian”.

    http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/the-natufians/

    • Like I said, you have the reading comprehension of a five year old DON.

      The Natufians were one of the earliest agriculturalists. The jury is still out on who holds the title for ‘the first farmers’ as the East Asians are also looking good for it, but Turkey is more likely to be the home of this particular branch of civilisation.

      Either I was not specific enough in pointing out Natufians are from Israel and not Turkey, or you are an idiot, jsust checkin.. the map shows the Natufians in Israel. You’re an idiot.

      C Loring Brace’s paper that measured them said they were slightly closer to to the Eurasian Population, and all the Sub Saharan traits seem to vanish before the beginning of the Neolithic farming era.

      The older Natufians had some African traits, by the time they began farming they didn’t (CL Brace), they’d had an inflow of popualtion from somewhere else that probably brought farming with them. Read it properly, I’m usually quite careful to point out they don’t appear to have been the first farmers, just very early ones.

  3. Mathilda: Am I correct in assuming that the first evidence of agriculture in Africa (egypt) is about 5600 BC (Fayum?).

    • Yes, I believe that’s the oldest farming site find. I think domesticates turn up near the Red Sea hills slightly ealirer, so the entry across the Sinai is about 8k ago.

  4. Cool blog but the flaming from the proprietor detracts substantially.

    • The proprietor is constantly being called a racist liar by the flamee and has a long history with him- he’s a complete moron who insist on posting abusive material here so I reserve the right to toast his idiot ass at every opportunity.

  5. Mathilda: I disagree with Don (above). Never let these vile afrocentrics get away without a good humiliation. You’re too gentle with them, if anything!

  6. Only someone with weak facts would avoid addressing the subject and introduce irrelevant nonsense.

    Afrocentrics did not write these studies:

    http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/an-analysis-of-crania-from-tell-duweir-using-multiple-discriminant-functions/

    http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/bioarchaeological-analysis-of-cultural-transition-in-the-southern-levant-using-dental-nonmetric-traits/

    Egypt controlled parts of the Levant for over 3,000 years so it should not be odd to find Egyptian and “Nubian” (Sudanese) affinities in the remains from this region. In fact, the 25th dynasty of Egypt played a significant role in trying to stop the Assyrian conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century B.C.

    Therefore, none of this should be shocking or odd unless people are purposely trying to turn ancient history into a competition between “races” that do not exist, which is silly as all humans and most modes of human existence come from Africa to begin with.

    http://www.henryaubin.com/?page_id=18

    Since Africans are the origin of humanity, it only makes sense that the Levantine corridor would be an ancient route of migrations out of Africa and that the populations there would have had strong affinities with Africans over many thousands of years. The idea that humanity originates in Africa is supported by many scholars and almost none of them are Afrocentric.

    Likewise, using word games does not change the fundamental fact that Africans had a profound role in the development of cereal cultivation. And all of this is coming from articles by white scholars. So where are the Afrocentrics?

    In fact the below quote is from our own Mathilda:

    This is a fairly complex part of the story. The Natufians displayed a strong minority influence from sub Saharan Africa, and the oldest site with cultivated cereals was Natufian. It seems likely that The Nubians, who were the first people to eat grain, moved up the Nile and into Israel as far as Northern Syria. This would have bought them into contact with the ancient Turks, about 15,000 years ago.

    What does that say? The Nubians were the first to eat grain and that the trait for being able to digest grain (another part of the article) comes from East Africa along with the early speakers of Afro Asiatic languages.

    Those are facts and not a competition between Africans and non Africans. Therefore, reporting the facts does not mean attacking Afrocentrics because Afrocentrics have nothing to do with it.

    Another African “step” towards cereal cultivation:

    http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/

    Sum it all up and what you have is the Nile Valley is an important corridor for the development of cultural traits and patterns that would eventually emerge and give rise to cultivation of cereals in the Levant and become a major factor in the development of agriculture.

    • Another African “step” towards cereal cultivation:

      http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/

      Don.. did you actually read any of those? I’m guessing youjust skimmed it. LMAO.. That paper stresses there were no early cereal remains found at that site – Jesus yet again your brain can’t cope with even basic text comprehension.

      The most important observation from it was that the C14 dates found on the domesticated barley at the site were very wrong. They were not 18,000 years old, but instead well within the neolithic era.

      The cereal grains were dated at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the date-stones at the Oxford University facility; all were shown to be relatively modern contaminants.

      The Wendorf item said the cultivated cereals in the Nile were all late neolithic intrusions…He didn’t say the innovated grain technology at all. He never has.

      Likewise, using word games does not change the fundamental fact that Africans had a profound role in the development of cereal cultivation

      So far Africans appeared to have zero role in developing cereal cultivation, all the African domesticates date to the late Neolithic. By the time the Natufians start growing grain they had lost all their African affinities, and the grain they were growing was not native to their area either. All of the early domesticates come from Turkey and the Zagros area, not one from Africa, and not even from the Natufian areas in Asia.

      Afrocentrics did not write these studies:

      http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/an-analysis-of-crania-from-tell-duweir-using-multiple-discriminant-functions/

      Debatable on that one.. Dr Keita always seems to find a way to manufacture a closer relationship to African groups than is there, and I’ve caught a couple of outright ‘mistakes’ in his papers that just happen to make some groups seem more African than they are. The other studies which found any similarity between Egyptians and Levantines were both pretty antiquated (1939). Lets just say he does get criticised for methodology, and not just by me. And most of the other studies found the people of that locale to be of local origin, not Egyptian- specifically the dental ones (teeth are actually more reliable; they vary more, and more consistently, between populations). That Keita paper is good example of how his methods are flawed more than anything.

      The bit about the Nubians is incorrect and based on the old Wendorf item that had grain consumption in Africa about 18k ago.. corrected in most of my older entries after I read the Wendorf paper you just posted a link too, I must have missed that one in my clear up. The oldest grain consumption is from Ohalo, and moved into Nubia, and the grain they were eating was all wild in Africa until neolithic grains from Asia arrived. Live and learn. Well apparently I do. You can tell it’s an old piece, I have m78 as East African- now known to be wrong.

      Don, due to your ceaseless stupidity and inabilty to correctly read even the simplest piece of text, I’m no longer tolerating your rather repetitive and dumbass comments until you manage to come up with something thats moderately close to a coherent argument. See ‘Eurasian Berbers’ for the reasons

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