Mobility and kinship in the prehistoric Sahara

Mobility and kinship in the prehistoric Sahara: Strontium isotope analysis of Holocene human skeletons from the Acacus Mts. (southwestern Libya)
Mary Anne Tafuri a,*, R. Alexander Bentley b, Giorgio Manzi a, Savino di Lernia c
a Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell’Uomo, Universita` di Roma ‘La Sapienza’, P.le A. Moro, 5, 00185 Roma, Italy
Received 15 October 2005; revision received 23 January 2006

The origins and development of pastoralism in Saharan North Africa involves societies and economies that, subjected to profound climatic changes and progressive desertification, came to be based on the movement of people and resources. The extreme conditions to which these groups were subjected made mobility a ‘resource’ in itself. Through the first analysis of Sr isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) in dental enamel of human skeletons from prehistoric burials of the Fezzan (southwestern Libya), we begin to investigate how mobility patterns changed with the onset of the desert. In combining our results with the archaeological evidence, we find that, the transformation in the economy of prehistoric groups correlated with a shift in mobility and possibly kinship systems.

More on ancient North Africa. It dates domesticated cattle arriving in Southern Libya about 7,400 BP. I’ll read properly later.


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