The beginnings of dairying as practised by pastoralists in ‘green’ Saharan Africa in the 5th millennium BC
Keywords:dairying, North Africa, Sahara, Tadrart Acacus, pottery, hunter-gathers, herders, cattle, rock art, stable carbon isotopes, fatty acids
Previous research has identified the antiquity and chronology of dairying practices as beginning in the Near East and its subsequent spread across Europe. In the Libyan Sahara, archaeological evidence, confirmed by the remarkable rock art depicting cattle herding, together with faunal evidence, also suggests an early inception of dairying practices in North Africa and the formation of an independent ‘secondary products’ economy by mobile pastoral groups. In this paper, we elaborate on the first unequivocal chemical evidence, based on the δ13C and Δ13C values of the major fatty acids of milk fat, for the adoption of dairying practices by prehistoric Saharan African people in the fifth millennium BC.
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