The earliest phase of introduction of Southwest Asian domesticated animals into Africa. New evidence from the Fayum Oasis in Egypt and its implications

Veerle Linseele*, Simon J. Holdaway, Willeke Wendrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The oldest records for Southwest Asian domesticated livestock species in Egypt date to the late 7th but mainly the 6th millennium cal BC and are among the earliest known evidence from the African continent as a whole. The records were obtained from Egypt's Eastern and Western Desert, where only cattle and caprines are present, and are not associated with evidence for cultivated crops. It takes until the 5th millennium cal BC before significant numbers of sites, with significant numbers of bones of domesticated species appear. In the Fayum Oasis, the sites of Kom K and Kom W date to this period and these have generally received most attention in the context of early stock keeping. However, older evidence for domesticated stock has also been found in the Fayum. We describe new faunal data from the early and middle Holocene, at and around the E29H1 locality, including the oldest remains of domesticated caprines recorded from the Fayum up to now (ca. 5600 cal BC). Based on the new finds, we emphasise the need to also investigate surface sites. We argue that much of the earliest history of stock keeping in Egypt is skewed by a lack of evidence. The remaining fauna from E29H1 shows the importance of fish. This is a common feature of all prehistoric sites of the Fayum and indicates adaptations to the local environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary International
Volume412
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Archaeozoology
  • Egypt
  • Fish
  • Holocene
  • Livestock
  • Preservation

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