Biogeochemical inferences of mobility of early Holocene fisher-foragers from the Southern Sahara Desert

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10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

North Africa is increasingly seen as an important context for understanding modern human evolution and reconstructing biocultural adaptations. The Sahara, in particular, witnessed a fluorescence of hunter-gatherer settlement at the onset of the Holocene after an extended occupational hiatus. Subsequent subsistence changes through the Holocene are contrary to those documented in other areas where mobile foraging gave way to settled agricultural village life. In North Africa, extractive fishing and hunting was supplanted by cattle and caprine pastoralism under deteriorating climatic conditions. Therefore, the initial stage of food production in North Africa witnessed a likely increase in mobility. However, there are few studies of paleomobility in Early Holocene hunter-gatherer Saharan populations and the degree of mobility is generally assumed. Here, we present radiogenic strontium isotope ratios from Early Holocene fisher-forager peoples from the site of Gobero, central Niger, southern Sahara Desert. Data indicate a relatively homogeneous radiogenic strontium isotope signature for this hunter-gather population with limited variability exhibited throughout the life course or among different individuals. Although the overall signature was local, some variation in the radiogenic strontium isotope data likely reflects transhumance into the nearby Aïr Massif. Data from Gobero were significantly less variable than in other worldwide hunter-gatherer populations, including those thought to be fairly sedentary. Strontium data from Gobero were also significantly different from contemporaneous sites in southwestern Libya. These patterns are discussed with respect to archaeological models of community organization and technological evolution. Am J Phys Anthropol 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-61
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume146
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Fingerprint

Northern Africa
Strontium Isotopes
desert
North Africa
Libya
Niger
Population
Strontium
village
food
organization
Fluorescence
Food
community

Keywords

  • bioarchaeology
  • hunter-gatherers
  • North Africa
  • radiogenic strontium isotope analysis
  • residential mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Anatomy

Cite this

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abstract = "North Africa is increasingly seen as an important context for understanding modern human evolution and reconstructing biocultural adaptations. The Sahara, in particular, witnessed a fluorescence of hunter-gatherer settlement at the onset of the Holocene after an extended occupational hiatus. Subsequent subsistence changes through the Holocene are contrary to those documented in other areas where mobile foraging gave way to settled agricultural village life. In North Africa, extractive fishing and hunting was supplanted by cattle and caprine pastoralism under deteriorating climatic conditions. Therefore, the initial stage of food production in North Africa witnessed a likely increase in mobility. However, there are few studies of paleomobility in Early Holocene hunter-gatherer Saharan populations and the degree of mobility is generally assumed. Here, we present radiogenic strontium isotope ratios from Early Holocene fisher-forager peoples from the site of Gobero, central Niger, southern Sahara Desert. Data indicate a relatively homogeneous radiogenic strontium isotope signature for this hunter-gather population with limited variability exhibited throughout the life course or among different individuals. Although the overall signature was local, some variation in the radiogenic strontium isotope data likely reflects transhumance into the nearby A{\"i}r Massif. Data from Gobero were significantly less variable than in other worldwide hunter-gatherer populations, including those thought to be fairly sedentary. Strontium data from Gobero were also significantly different from contemporaneous sites in southwestern Libya. These patterns are discussed with respect to archaeological models of community organization and technological evolution. Am J Phys Anthropol 2011. {\circledC} 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.",
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