Monday, June 4, 2012

Domesticating Animals in Africa: Implications of Genetic and Archaeological Findings

Diane Gifford-Gonzalez and Olivier Hanotte


"Domestication is an ongoing co-evolutionary process rather than an event or invention. Recent zooarchaeological and animal genetics research has prompted a thorough revision of our perspectives on the history of domestic animals in Africa. Genetic analyses of domestic animal species have revealed that domestic donkeys are descended from African ancestors, opened a debate over the contribution of indigenous aurochs to African domestic cattle, revealed an earlier and possibly exogenous origin of the domestic cat, and reframed our vision of African dogs. Genetic diversity studies and mapping of unique traits in African cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens indicate adaptations to regional environmental challenges and suggest hitherto unknown and complex patterns of interactions both among Africans and with Southwest Asia and other Asian regions on the Indian Ocean. This article argues against the static perspective on domestication as invention and for viewing it as a dynamic, locally based and continuing process."


"Honegger ( 2005, "Kerma et les débuts du Néolithique africain", Genava n.s., 53, 239–249) reports two ‘Neolithic’ sites, south of the Nile’s Second Cataract and east of the locale of the later Kerma civilization, that have yielded remains of domestic cattle with an associated date of c. 7000 BC. Geographic proximity of these Nubian occurrences to the Nabta–Kiseiba region suggests domestic cattle appeared first in the grassy hinterlands of the Nile in this region, as dates for cattle remains are oldest in the eastern Sahara–Sahel and youngest in the far western Sahara."

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