A pdf on Neolithic Sinai

With some notes on the funerary traditions in the area, and a mention of the neolithic which is what got my attention.

Although Muzzolini (1993) has insisted that the wild progenitors of domesticated  sheep and goats existed in Africa, it is more generally held that they were Asian (Clutton- Brock 1993: 68-69; Gautier 1980: 336), and that, from there, the domesticated forms  diffused into Africa.  It has long been assumed that the route was across northern Sinai, then westward along the Mediterranean coast and southward up the Nile Valley (for example, Baumgartel, 1952).  In coastal North Africa, their earliest documented occurrence is at the Haua Fteah in Cyrenaica, where domestic goat and possible domestic sheep occur in the Neolithic and the Libyco-Capsian (Klein and Scott 1986: 524-526). 

Dating of the cultural units in the Hauasequence is not always clear, since the site was excavated in arbitrary horizontal spits (McBurney1967).  However, the stratification also was essentially horizontal and an age of 6800-7000 BP is most likely for the Neolithic.  Klein and Scott do not report from where in the Libyco-Capsian the domestic goat comes, to its age can only be estimated as pre-7000 BP.

Unexpectedly, there are no domestic sheep/goat of comparable age in northern Egypt.   The earliest known examples, at Merimde and in the Fayum, are unlikely to be earlier than about 6000 BP (Hassan1988).  Instead, the earliest sheep/goats in mainland Egyptare from Upper Egypt and the southernpart of the Sahara.  In Upper Egypt, domestic goat has been positively identified at SodmeinCave, in the Red Sea Hills, just after 7000 BP (Vermeersch et al. 1994).  Goats are very common in some sites at Dakhla Oasis from 6500 BP onwards (McDonald, 1991: 47), and the presence of sheep/goat in the Middle Neolithic of E-75-8 at Nabta, some 100 km west of Abu Simbel (Gautier, 1980), has been reconfirmed by re-excavation (Close in press).

The lack of finds in Northern Egypt is usually put down the Nile shifting course all the time and covering what used to be the best farmland. There’s also now a 7,000 year old site near Faiyum. This also has a comment on the age of proto Sahelian;

 This is also in accord with the linguistic evidence.  The reconstructions of Ehret, who  is looking at the linguistic history of northeastern Africa in general, place the first  appearance of words relating to sheep and goats in the Proto-Sahelian language (1993:  111-112, 116), which he dates to the mid-seventh millennium BC.  This corresponds to  about 7500-7000 radiocarbon years ago.

Which would bring it closer to the range of sheep and goats arriving in southern Egypt, in fact only 500 years off, not the 1000 years suggested by Wendorf. Another point raised was that Sinai appeared to have wetter and cooler in the pre-pottery Neolithic than at present. An interesting theory is that the goats and sheep came right over the Red sea into upper Egypt rather than the more logical route across land. This is interesting as Punt is usually named as being directly to the East of Egypt, and Sinai would fit that description. It mentions turquoise and copper being traded to upper Egypt but not lower from the area, which also suggests a good connection between the two sites.


3 responses to “A pdf on Neolithic Sinai

  1. Actually, Sinai, Links us to Asia. Many people don’t realize Egypt, Sits on 2 Continents Africa, As well As Asia.

    The usual line today is at the Isthmus of Suez along the path of the Suez Canal. This makes the Sinai Peninsula geographically Asian, and Egypt a transcontinental country. A map of the recognized boundary between the two continents may be viewed here. Nevertheless Egypt is commonly referred to as an African state, because most of its population and territory are there. Geopolitically, Egypt is sometimes regarded as an Asian state, and it is usually considered part of the transcontinental geopolitical region of the Middle East.


    To Me, Land Bridge sounds very cheap, Sinai, Is a state, And a very Large State, In Egypt.


  2. I felt this was an interesting take on some animals and people for the areas in question – that is, until you’ve mentioned Punt. I understand why you fight for things African to be replaced by things Asian or “Eurasian” But, even when most of the evidence suggests otherwise, you still rely on outdated and obsolete views (such as with Punt). Why? When does it stop? For instance, when the overwhelming majority of textual and scholarly reference puts Punt at or within the Horn of Africa… Where on Earth do you get: “Punt is USUALLY named as being directly to the East of Egypt” ?? It’s clever of you to slide that in as your followers will blindly agree without verifying anything. This view on Punt would be squashed in practically every university from North America to Europe. As far as Sinai being the origin of anything, I think its still an interesting place to look with regards to certain animals and many of the peoples of N. Africa. But, bringing Punt into this only hurts your argument, imo.

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