Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cattle nomads in the prehistoric Sahara

Some sadly brief pieces about the excellent work carried out by Dr Kropelin and his colleagues in the eastern Sahara, including the Gilf Kebir. There's a bit more on the above page, but not much. (
"A 3,200-year interlude of tropical rains once transformed the eastern Sahara into a verdant savanna where seminomadic people thrived amid elephants, cattle and more than 30 species of fish, according to German researchers.After collecting more than 500 radiocarbon dates at 150 sites in an area larger than Western Europe, University of Cologne researchers found that the sudden climate change 10,500 years ago coaxed thousands of people to move into the now desolate expanse. The researchers based their dates on bone, charcoal and human artifacts found in the area.The prehistoric settlements show evidence of the first attempts in Africa at raising cattle and fashioning ceramic pottery, said geo-archeologist Stefan Kroepelin, one of the authors of the paper, published Friday in the journal Science." (
"An archaeologist who has spent decades studying sites in the Sahara says nomads who roamed the area millennia ago were the first to domesticate cattle. At the time, what is now desert was a vast savannah with a humid climate, Dr. Stefan Kropelin of the University of Cologne told the BBC. When the climate changed and the area became one of the driest places on Earth, its inhabitants moved into the Nile Valley."

See the above pages for some more details (particularly the first one). The original article was published in the journal Science (subscription required):

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