Article

The quest for evidence of domestic stock at Blydefontein Rock Shelter

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Abstract

Recent zooarchaeological and aDNA analysis have produced conflicting evidence for the existence of early domestic stock at Blydefontein Rock Shelter. The anatomical analysis identified eight specimens as sheep or sheep/goats, the oldest of which was dated to 2860–2765 BP, while the aDNA results suggest that the oldest identified sheep specimen was either greater kudu or eland. Almost all of the other aDNA identifications conflicted with the anatomical assessments. The faunal and aDNA analyses are presented in separate papers in this journal. This paper provides background information on the site of Blydefontein, and frames the discussion in terms of the reliability and validity of the anatomical and aDNA evidence.

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... In the case of Blydefontein Rock Shelter (Horsburgh and Moreno-Mayar 2015), two recently published papers argue that the genetic results ought to be either considered spurious (Scott & Plug 2016: 61, 75) or at least be regarded as provisional and with suspicion pending the availability of further data (Bousman et al. 2016: 56). OUR RESPONSE Neither Scott and Plug (2016), nor Bousman et al. (2016) appear to have closely read the paper they attempt to critique (Horsburgh & Moreno-Mayar 2015). Scott and Plug (2016) inaccurately cite the name of that paper, and neither paper accurately references the genetically identified species of specimen BFT138 (called PRL138 by Bousman et al. 2016), consistently describing it as genetically identified as either kudu or eland. ...
... OUR RESPONSE Neither Scott and Plug (2016), nor Bousman et al. (2016) appear to have closely read the paper they attempt to critique (Horsburgh & Moreno-Mayar 2015). Scott and Plug (2016) inaccurately cite the name of that paper, and neither paper accurately references the genetically identified species of specimen BFT138 (called PRL138 by Bousman et al. 2016), consistently describing it as genetically identified as either kudu or eland. ...
... We provide it here (Table 1). Bousman et al. (2016) present concerns about the validity of the molecular data, and display the radiocarbon dating data from Blydefontein as though the disputed specimens are actually those of domestic stock. Specifically, in figure 3 they show radiocarbon probability distributions and the legend notes that the dates represented in blue are "domestic stock bones". ...
Article
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The original analyses of faunal assemblages excavated from Blydefontein Rock Shelter, Karoo in 1967 (Sampson) and 1985 (Bousman) were undertaken by Klein and Cruz-Uribe and did not identify remains of domestic stock. Reanalysis of the 1985 faunal assemblage by Scott and Plug found the remains of domestic stock. Ten specimens were morphologically identified as sheep or sheep/goat. One of those specimens identified as a domestic caprine yielded a direct radiocarbon determination of 2860-2765 cal. BP, some 800 years older than any other evidence of domestic stock in the region. Eight of the specimens identified as domestic stock were provided for ancient DNA analysis, and we were able to recover DNA from five of them. Mitochondrial genome sequencing allowed us to identify one of the specimens morphologically identified as sheep/goat to sheep, and identify four other such specimens as originating in indigenous southern African bovid species. Crucially, the specimen purported to provide evidence of surprisingly early domestic stock in southern Africa came instead from an eland. Two recently published papers have challenged the authenticity of the genetic results. The challenges, however, are rooted in significant misunderstandings of molecular genetics.
... Like those from Die Kelders 1, it too is a member of haplogroup B. The Blydefontein sheep was excavated from an undated layer, but the underlying layer has been dated to cal. AD 1020-1395 (Bousman et al. 2016). ...
... One of those specimens was subjected to two rounds of AMS dating, providing the startlingly old date of approximately 2800 cal. BP (Bousman et al. 2016). Eight of the ten specimens identified as domestic stock, including the surprisingly old one, were analyzed to recover ancient DNA. ...
... As described, the sheep specimen was excavated from an undated layer that lies directly above a layer dated to cal. AD 1020-1395 (Bousman et al. 2016). The specimen with the radiocarbon determination of about 2800 cal. ...
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Genetic analyses of southern African livestock have been limited and primarily focused on agricultural production rather than the reconstruction of prehistory. Attempts to sequence DNA preserved in archaeological remains of domestic stock have been hampered by the discovery of high error rates in the morphological identification of fauna. As such, much DNA sequencing effort that was directed at sequencing southern Africa's domestic livestock has been expended sequencing wild forms. The few genetic data that are available from both modern and archaeological domestic stock show relatively low genetic diversity in maternally inherited mitochondrial lineages in both sheep and cattle. Analyses of modern stock show, in contrast, that the bi-parentally inherited nuclear genome is relatively diverse. This pattern is perhaps indicative of historic cross-breeding with stock introduced from outside Africa. Critically important to moving forward in our understanding of the prehistory of domesticates in southern Africa is attention to the high error rates in faunal analyses that have been documented both genetically and through ZooMS.
... At both Blydefontein in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province and at Sehonghong in Lesotho, analysis of the ancient DNA (aDNA) of faunal remains morphologically identified as domestic species has instead identified the genetic signatures of wild species, leading to the conclusion that previous morphological analyses are incorrect [31][32][33] . Although these claims have been refuted by the zooarchaeologist involved in the original analysis 34 , debate over the relative merits of morphological analysis versus molecular analysis continues [35][36][37][38] . Thus far, however, there has been no biochemical evidence to support the long-term exploitation of domestic species by hunter-gatherer groups in the Lesotho highlands. ...
... The ongoing debate surrounding the relative merits of osteoarchaeological versus molecular analyses for correctly identifying the presence of domestic livestock in faunal assemblages from archaeological sites [31][32][33][34][35][36][37] attests to the importance of investigating such wide-reaching questions with multiple lines of enquiry. Considering the high level of lipid residue preservation at these southern African sites, this type of analysis has an important part to play in the ongoing debate surrounding the introduction of livestock keeping into the region. ...
Article
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The recovery of Early Iron Age artefacts and domestic animal remains from hunter-gatherer contexts at Likoaeng, Lesotho, has been argued to indicate contact between highland hunter-gatherers and Early Iron Age agropastoralist communities settled in lowland areas of southeastern Africa during the second half of the first millennium AD. However, disagreement between archaeozoological studies and ancient DNA means that the possibility that those hunter-gatherers kept livestock themselves remains controversial. Here we report analyses of pottery-absorbed organic residues from two hunter-gatherer sites and one agriculturalist site in highland Lesotho to reconstruct prehistoric subsistence practices. Our results demonstrate the exploitation of secondary products from domestic livestock by hunter-gatherers in Lesotho, directly dated to the seventh century AD at Likoaeng and the tenth century AD at the nearby site of Sehonghong. The data provide compelling evidence for the keeping of livestock by hunter-gatherer groups and their probable incorporation as ancillary resources into their subsistence strategies. Free full text, view only access available at: https://rdcu.be/b35XU
... Questions regarding the validity of certain taxonomic identifications in South Africa have been raised (Horsburgh et al. 2016) and offer a welcome platform to reflect on the challenges and complexities of archaeozoological practice in South(ern) Africa. Communication between specialists and archaeologists-in print-is a step towards raising awareness of the methodological issues that underpin our interpretations (e.g., Bousman et al. 2016;Horsburgh and Moreno-Mayar 2015;Scott and Plug 2016). In this regard, confirming key taxonomic specimens through complementary analyses (Coutu et al. 2016;Horsburgh et al. 2016) and combining multiple lines of evidence (Antonites et al. 2016;Coutu et al. 2016;Grody 2016; see also Steele 2015) will go a long way to strengthen archaeozoological arguments. ...
... We have made the assumption in presenting this work that the identification of cattle and caprines is valid. Recent debates about the strength of genetic identification versus morphological identification suggest we need to be cautious and that there is need for increased analysis of the ancient DNA of animal bones [48][49][50][51][52][53]. Similarly, the finds needs to be directly dated. ...
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This paper is a response to the growing reference to archaeological evidence by linguists and geneticists interested in the spread of early farmers and pastoralists in southern Africa. It presents two databases. The first contains the archaeological evidence for pastoralism and farming in southern Africa, for the period 550 BC to AD 1050. This is the first time that the seven different types of archaeological evidence that have traditionally been used to identify both spread events are presented together at this scale. This was stimulated by our interest in investigating the antiquity of an early ‘Iron Age package’ relative to the spread of single archaeological traits. The analysis shows that the package appears approximately 700 years after sites containing pottery, cattle and sheep, without agriculture, appear in the drier parts of the sub-continent. It post-dates the appearance of earlier sites with pottery associated with farmers, metal-working and cultivation in the eastern half of the sub-continent. While poor preservation undoubtedly explains the absence of some parts of the package, the analysis suggests that other explanations should be considered. The second database is a quantitative, spatial study of archaeological publications on southern African farming and pastoralism for the period 1950 to 2016, covering the same geographical area and archaeological timeframe. This is presented as a proxy for research-intensive areas in attempt to show the gaps in archaeological fieldwork and knowledge.
... For example, despite having a similar range in ratio scores to Princess Vlei, Blydefontein could not be definitively classified as a WRZ location. This is consistent with the contemporary environment; Blydefontein is located north of the WRZ, yet is occasionally influenced by mid-latitude cyclones (Scott et al., 2005;Bousman et al., 2016). Under periods of a northward displacement of the ITCZ, Blydefontein would likely to be the first of the locations included I this study to be included into the WRZ; a pattern confirmed in the 1000-year summary score maps (Fig. 4). ...
Article
Situated at the transition between the mid-latitudes and the sub-tropics, southern Africa has a climatic dichotomy between winter- and summer-rainfall zones (WRZ and SRZ). The latitudinal extent of the winter-rainfall zone during the late Pleistocene remains contentiously debated within the regional palaeoscience literature. One method posited to reflect the seasonality of rainfall at a given location throughout late Pleistocene records for South Africa is the ratio of fossil pollen Asteraceae to Poaceae. Although adopted for a range of southern African locations, the veracity of this method has not been tested. This study explores the extent to which this ratio can discriminate between the SRZ and WRZ, and the extent of the region subject to fluctuation during the late Quaternary. The ratio is found to successfully discriminate regions which are, and would have remained during the past 20,000 cal yr BP, in the SRZ and WRZ exclusively. On the basis of these statistics, it appears that WRZ conditions can be inferred from ratio scores >0.6 and SRZ conditions from scores <0.2. For locations situated between 28 and 32°S, no clear discrimination can be made. It is argued that this region has been subjected to fluctuations in the latitudinal extent of the Westerlies and consequently in the influence of mid-latitude cyclones over the past 20,000 cal yr BP, with the rugged topography of the Drakensberg Mountains resulting in a complex precipitation climatology controlled by both frontal and orographic uplift.
... At the 35 southern African Later Stone Age sites that have the traces of domestic stock without agriculture, the percentage of domestic stock in the total mammalian faunal assemblage is also very low: the median is 8 per cent domestic stock (Russell and Lander, 2015a). Recently, Horsburgh et al. (2016) have claimed that domestic stock have in instances been misidentified in southern African assemblages; if true, the numbers of domestic stock are likely to be even lower than those presented (see Bousman et al. (2016) and Scott and Plug (2016) who challenge this claim). Livestock were rarely consumed during the Later Stone Age period. ...
Article
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The frequently stated yet unexamined assumption in the debate surrounding the acquisition of livestock by hunter-gatherers in southern Africa is that this transition was about a subsistence change to food production. This interpretation ignores the archaeological evidence that hunter-gatherers remained hunter-gatherers on acquisition of stock. It also overlooks the ethnographic and historical evidence surrounding the relationships between humans and animals in Africa (and beyond), both today and in the past. Amongst the majority of the continent’s people, the primary value of domestic animals is their social and ritual value. Across all subsistence categories in eastern and southern Africa – hunter-gatherer, agro-pastoralist and pastoralist – there is a strong and well-documented shared resistance to slaughtering livestock. This has implications for our understanding of the uptake of stock by hunter-gatherers in southern African from 2000 years ago and its comparison to Neolithic transitions in other parts of the world.
... The Oakhurst industry in Wonderwerk began earlier than at Rose Cottage Cave in the Free State, although the dates in the latter site have not been calibrated and modeled in the same way. Spit 4dI in Wonderwerk overlaps with a 10.6 ka cal BP date (Pta-5599; recalibrated in OxCal 4.2 with the SHCal13 curve for the Southern Hemisphere) for the earliest dated Oakhurst at Rose Cottage Cave (Wadley 2000) as well as with the date of 10.6-8.5 ka cal BP for the Lockshoek level at Blydefontein (SMU-1823) (Bousman et al. 2016). ...
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Wonderwerk Cave has yielded one of the longest and most complete Holocene Later Stone Age (LSA) records for the arid interior of South Africa. This paper presents the results of a new radiocarbon dating program for Excavation 1 that is explored within a Bayesian model of all existing Wonderwerk Cave radiocarbon ( ¹⁴ C) dates for the Holocene. The proposed model, using Phases within an OxCal Sequence model, provides robust age estimates for changes in the technological and paleoenvironmental record at the site. The more precise dates allow a comparison of the timing of climate shifts across the interior of southern Africa and begin to allow us to identify whether hiatuses in human occupation, or cultural shifts, are synchronous across broader areas of the subcontinent, or not.
... Bousman et al. (2016 this volume) provide detailed information on the site and the stratigraphy. In brief, Sampson conducted a small excavation in 1967 (Sampson 1970), and Bousman excavated the site in 1985; its faunal material was later analysed by the present authors (Bousman 1998;Bousman et al. 2016 this volume). The faunal material was originally examined by Klein and Cruz-Uribe in 1990 and a faunal list was compiled. ...
Article
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Faunal remains from Blydefontein Shelter, excavated in 1985, were submitted to the authors for analysis in 2008. In addition to the wild species identified, one complete and some fragmented bones were identified as sheep (Ovis aries) or sheep/goat (Ovis/Capra) using osteomorphology and osteometry. Some of these bones predate the Bushman–Colonial contact period and also the Spoegrivier and Leopard's Cave (Namibia) sheep finds. This makes the Blydefontein sheep the oldest yet to suggest the early presence of pastoralists in the east-central Karoo. These results, however, conflict with recently published aDNA results. We discuss the osteometry and the distinguishing morphological features of the sheep and sheep/goat bones and compare these to the taxa identified on the aDNA. The results confirm our earlier identifications and show conclusively that the aDNA analysis produced spurious identifications.
... Increasingly, aDNA is being successfully generated from African faunal assemblages (Kimura et al. 2011;Prendergast et al. 2017). This approach was recently taken in southern Africa to distinguish wild from domestic bovids, with the results generating significant controversy (Bousman et al. 2016;Horsburgh et al. 2016a;Horsburgh et al. 2016b;Scott and Plug 2016;Horsburgh et al. 2017;Plug 2018;Horsburgh 2018). Preservation remains a major obstacle for livestock aDNA in Africa. ...
Article
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Large-scale reconstructions of the spread of food production systems require fine-scale analyses of dietary evidence. One current impediment to understanding early African pastoralism is a lack of high-resolution portraits of herd management, specifically with respect to sheep (Ovis aries) and goat (Capra hircus), osteologically similar but behaviorally distinct caprines. In this study, we argue for the anthropological relevance of distinguishing sheep and goat remains in African pastoralist contexts, commenting upon implications for ecological settings and pastoralists’ strategies for production and risk management. We explain why sheep/goat distinction is rare in African zooarchaeological studies, particularly in comparison to Southwest Asia. We then apply three methods to distinguish caprines in an archaeofaunal sample from the Pastoral Neolithic site of Luxmanda, Tanzania, dated to c. 3000 BP: morphological identifications by two independent analysts, collagen-peptide mass fingerprinting (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry, ZooMS), and carbon stable isotope analyses. A comparative assessment of the results demonstrates the ability of biomolecular methods to improve resolution of faunal records, particularly where preservation is poor. We call for wider application of these methods to legacy collections, in order to refine existing regional models for the spread of herding in Africa, and to better understand ancient pastoralists’ herd-management decisions.
... This increase probably indicates fire intensity in the Wonderwerk Cave entrance and accords also with more anthropogenic activity documented in the upper Equus Cave layers (1A) (Grine and Klein, 1985). At Blydefontein Shelter there is evidence for domestic stock, whose dung could introduce a further bias (Bousman, 2005;Bousman et al., 2016;Bousman and Scott, 1994). By investigating all these various finds in caves in comparison with pollen spectra from "natural" localities such as the pan and spring deposits, it may be possible to identify reasons for the lack of coherent patterning between sites as observed in our study area. ...
Article
We have reassessed the palynological record of Equus Cave in the Savanna Biome of the southern Kalahari, one of the longest Late Quaternary pollen records for the semi-arid central interior of South Africa. We combined published pollen results from the cave, derived from hyena coprolites and the rubified deposits in which they occur, into a single sequence. By re-considering the chronology of this sequence, we critically evaluated the palaeoenvironmental record for the site. We compared the pollen evidence from Equus Cave to that from the longer Wonderwerk Cave records (stalagmite, sediments and dung), also located in the Savanna Biome. Then, we contrasted Equus and Wonderwerk records with other previously published pollen sequences derived from a range of sources from several sites in central South Africa. These sites follow a broad northwest to southeast transect of c. 500 km through the Grassland and Nama Karoo Biomes of the Free State and Eastern Cape. Applying Principal Components Analysis to the pollen data, we derived climatic signals at a regional scale to refine reconstructions of Late Quaternary changes for central South Africa.
... These show that both immigrant Khoe speakers from the northeast and northern San hunter-gatherers were involved in the sporadic, gradual spread and adoption of livestock in southern Africa Güldemann 2008;Henn et al. 2008;Macholdt et al. 2014;Pickrell et al. 2012;Sadr 2015Sadr , 2018Schlebusch et al. 2012). Although fresh genetic evidence has now cast doubt on the identification of the oldest sheep bones in this part of the world (Bousman et al. 2016;Horsburgh et al. 2016Horsburgh et al. , 2017Plug 2018;Scott and Plug 2016), the very large number of identified sheep bones in the Kasteelberg sites make this hill an unquestionable center of first millennium AD livestock exploitation in the Western Cape Province of South Africa (Klein and Cruz-Uribe 1989). ...
Article
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Kasteelberg is a prominent hill and a famous archaeological locality on the west coast of South Africa. It has abundant evidence of pre-colonial herding practices. In this paper, I describe the Later Stone Age hilltop site of KBDe and its excavated remains. I argue that KBDe is merely one part of an extensive site that covers the summit of Kasteelberg, and which includes the previously published locality KBA. From the late seventh to the mid-eleventh centuries AD, the hilltop was used as a location for conspicuous feasts. Hilltop settlements often broadcast higher social status, and Kasteelberg may be the oldest example of such signalling in South Africa.
... Unfortunately, mounting evidence from ancient DNA [11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] and mass spectrometry analyses [20] is revealing widespread misidentification of faunal remains. The first evidence was of wild fauna being assigned to domesticated taxa but more recent work has shown that the errors are bidirectional, with domestic fauna also being misidentified as wild taxa. ...
Article
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Simple Summary: Anthropologists reconstructing the spread of domesticated animals into new regions can often rely on the archaeological remains of those animals being readily distinguishable from the remains of wild species. In southern Africa there are several wild species with bones as resemble those of cattle. Non-morphological techniques must therefore be employed to identify cattle bones in southern African archaeological sites. We have used ancient DNA analyses to identify the species of bones from four southern African archaeological that we had hoped might be those of cattle. They were not. All the analyzed specimens came from wild species. Unfortunately this means that we must await further research to identify the earliest spread of domesticated animals to southern Africa. Abstract: Establishing robust temporal control of the arrival of domesticated stock and the associated husbandry skills and lifeways in Southern Africa remains frustrated by the osteological similarities between domestic stock and wild endemic fauna. We report the results of a systematic ancient DNA survey of appropriately sized bovid remains from Later Stone Age deposits in four South African archaeological sites. We show that none of the tested remains originated in domesticated cattle. The precise date of arrival of domestic cattle in the region awaits further study, although we also report new radiocarbon determinations which further refine the local chronology.
... This increase probably indicates fire intensity in the Wonderwerk Cave entrance and accords also with more anthropogenic activity documented in the upper Equus Cave layers (1A) (Grine and Klein, 1985). At Blydefontein Shelter there is evidence for domestic stock, whose dung could introduce a further bias (Bousman, 2005;Bousman et al., 2016;Bousman and Scott, 1994). By investigating all these various finds in caves in comparison with pollen spectra from "natural" localities such as the pan and spring deposits, it may be possible to identify reasons for the lack of coherent patterning between sites as observed in our study area. ...
Article
We have reassessed the palynological record of Equus Cave in the Savanna Biome of the southern Kalahari, one of the longest Late Quaternary pollen records for the semi-arid central interior of South Africa. We combined published pollen results from the cave, derived from hyena coprolites and the rubified deposits in which they occur, into a single sequence. By re-considering the chronology of this sequence, we critically evaluated the palaeoenvironmental record for the site. We compared the pollen evidence from Equus Cave to that from the longer Wonderwerk Cave records (stalagmite, sediments and dung), also located in the Savanna Biome. Then, we contrasted Equus and Wonderwerk records with other previously published pollen sequences derived from a range of sources from several sites in central South Africa. These sites follow a broad northwest to southeast transect of c. 500 km through the Grassland and Nama Karoo Biomes of the Free State and Eastern Cape. Applying Principal Components Analysis to the pollen data, we derived climatic signals at a regional scale to refine reconstructions of Late Quaternary changes for central South Africa.
... There remains a question as to whether the species identifications of these specimens are secure. All those mentioned above have been identified only by their morphology, and confusion with several similar-sized species of wild bovids is possible, as highlighted by the mismatch between morphological and ancient DNA (aDNA) identifications of putative early domesticates at the site of Blydefontein in central South Africa [15][16][17][18][19] , at Sehonghong in Lesotho [20][21][22] and elsewhere 23 . Several teeth from Leopard's Cave in Namibia, dated to just over 2000 BP and originally thought to be from domesticated caprines (sheep and/or goat), have since been shown by Le Meillour et al. (2020) to derive from wild springbok 24 . ...
Article
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We used palaeoproteomics and peptide mass fingerprinting to obtain secure species identifications of key specimens of early domesticated fauna from South Africa, dating to ca. 2000 BP. It can be difficult to distinguish fragmentary remains of early domesticates (sheep) from similar-sized local wild bovids (grey duiker, grey rhebok, springbok—southern Africa lacks wild sheep) based on morphology alone. Our analysis revealed a Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) marker ( m/z 1532) present in wild bovids and we demonstrate through LC–MS/MS that it is capable of discriminating between wild bovids and caprine domesticates. We confirm that the Spoegrivier specimen dated to 2105 ± 65 BP is indeed a sheep. This is the earliest directly dated evidence of domesticated animals in southern Africa. As well as the traditional method of analysing bone fragments, we show the utility of minimally destructive sampling methods such as PVC eraser and polishing films for successful ZooMS identification. We also show that collagen extracted more than 25 years ago for the purpose of radiocarbon dating can yield successful ZooMS identification. Our study demonstrates the importance of developing appropriate regional frameworks of comparison for future research using ZooMS as a method of biomolecular species identification.
... Although date estimates were obtained by association with the stratigraphy, this is unreliable at these sites. The Die Kelders 1 sheep sample is from layer 2 that dates to approximately 1300 years BP [34,81] and the Blydefontein sheep sample falls anywhere within the last 1000 years BP [82]. More research is needed on the archaeological samples, as well as other potential archaeological markers for novel groups on the landscape, to resolve these issues. ...
Article
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Background Hunter-gatherer lifestyles dominated the southern African landscape up to ~ 2000 years ago, when herding and farming groups started to arrive in the area. First, herding and livestock, likely of East African origin, appeared in southern Africa, preceding the arrival of the large-scale Bantu-speaking agro-pastoralist expansion that introduced West African-related genetic ancestry into the area. Present-day Khoekhoe-speaking Namaqua (or Nama in short) pastoralists show high proportions of East African admixture, linking the East African ancestry with Khoekhoe herders. Most other historical Khoekhoe populations have, however, disappeared over the last few centuries and their contribution to the genetic structure of present-day populations is not well understood. In our study, we analyzed genome-wide autosomal and full mitochondrial data from a population who trace their ancestry to the Khoekhoe-speaking Hessequa herders from the southern Cape region of what is now South Africa. Results We generated genome-wide data from 162 individuals and mitochondrial DNA data of a subset of 87 individuals, sampled in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, where the Hessequa population once lived. Using available comparative data from Khoe-speaking and related groups, we aligned genetic date estimates and admixture proportions to the archaeological proposed dates and routes for the arrival of the East African pastoralists in southern Africa. We identified several Afro-Asiatic-speaking pastoralist groups from Ethiopia and Tanzania who share high affinities with the East African ancestry present in southern Africa. We also found that the East African pastoralist expansion was heavily male-biased, akin to a pastoralist migration previously observed on the genetic level in ancient Europe, by which Pontic-Caspian Steppe pastoralist groups represented by the Yamnaya culture spread across the Eurasian continent during the late Neolithic/Bronze Age. Conclusion We propose that pastoralism in southern Africa arrived through male-biased migration of an East African Afro-Asiatic-related group(s) who introduced new subsistence and livestock practices to local southern African hunter-gatherers. Our results add to the understanding of historical human migration and mobility in Africa, connected to the spread of food-producing and livestock practices.
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The combined use of linguistic, genetic and archaeological studies for establishing migration models is common in southern African research on pastoralism. According to some of these models, sheep would have diffused with Khoe-speaking people through southern Africa from around 2000 years ago. In the literature, ‘Khoe people’ and ‘herders’ or ‘pastoralists’ are often used as synonyms. Many implications follow from this and cast a shadow on the history of Khoe speakers in southern Africa. This paper critiques the correlation made between language groups, gene signatures and economies of subsistence before turning to a revaluation of the archaeological context of the early herding phase. The recent debates concerning the identification and dates of early sheep bones are discussed and integrated with the archaeological data relative to the appearance of herding practices. The use of a single model for explaining the advent and development of herding practices in southern Africa is debated and the potential plurality of actors involved in these processes is suggested.
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The controversy between the DNA and morphological and osteometric identifications of animal remains from Sehonghong in Lesotho is discussed in this paper as a response to Horsburgh et al. (2016a)'s article ‘Bringing the Kalahari debate to the mountains’. Faunal identification procedures are described and base measurements provided. Morphological and osteometric data show that the aDNA result of eland on a morphologically identified sheep must be at fault. Furthermore, the cattle bones identified by aDNA as eland do not fit the morphology and are also too small for eland. New research on dairy lipids present in the potsherds of traditional hunter-gatherer ware strengthens the case for herding practices amongst past hunter-gatherer communities in the Lesotho highlands.
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The archaeological sequence at Kasteelberg B, in the Western Cape of South Africa, spans a millennium and covers several distinct occupational phases in the early pastoralist settlement history of the region. Attempts to understand that history through coordinating archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence have proved problematic. The refined programme of radiocarbon dating presented here sheds further light on the different phases of occupation. More remarkably, it suggests, despite changes in material culture, the persistence of a single population over time, rather than population replacement as has been previously conjectured.
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This paper summarizes and reviews the likely role of infectious diseases as constraints on the spread of domestic animals south of the Sahara. It looks not only at livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats), which have previously received most attention in this regard, but also at dogs, donkeys, and horses. All six species (as well as domestic pigs) originated in Eurasia or North Africa and it is therefore highly likely that on entering the Afrotropical zoogeographic region they will have encountered novel disease challenges to which they were not previously adapted, including pathogens able to ‘jump’ into them from closely related taxa endemic to sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Cape buffalo, wildebeest, jackals, zebras). The paper identifies the key diseases involved, considers how arguments for their constraining role can be evaluated further, briefly explores some of the consequences for African history that they have entailed, and emphasizes the importance of also considering the spread of animal diseases that originated with Africa beyond the continent. In particular, it suggests that two important trypanosomal diseases of now global distribution — surra and dourine — may have originally spread out of Africa using donkeys as their principal host.
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We investigated the genetic diversity and historic relationships among southern African sheep as well as the relationships between them and sheep outside the continent by sourcing both archaeological and modern sheep samples. Archaeological sheep samples derived from the site Die Kelders 1, near Cape Town, date to approximately 1500 years ago. The modern samples were taken as ear snips from Damara, Namaqua Afrikaner, and Ronderib Afrikaner sheep on a farm in Prieska in the Northern Cape. Illumina sequencing libraries were constructed for both ancient and modern specimens. Ancient specimens were enriched for the mitochondrial genome using an in-solution hybridization protocol and modern specimens were subjected to shotgun sequencing. Sequences were mapped to the Ovis aries reference genome, assigned to haplogroups and subhaplogroups, and used to calculate a phylogenetic tree using previously published, geographically dispersed mitochondrial genome sheep sequences. Genetic diversity statistics show that southern African sheep have lower diversity than sheep in other regions. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that many modern southern African sheep are likely descended from prehistoric indigenous sheep populations and not from sheep imported from Europe during the historic period.
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Faunal remains from Blydefontein Shelter, excavated in 1985, were submitted to the authors for analysis in 2008. In addition to the wild species identified, one complete and some fragmented bones were identified as sheep (Ovis aries) or sheep/goat (Ovis/Capra) using osteomorphology and osteometry. Some of these bones predate the Bushman–Colonial contact period and also the Spoegrivier and Leopard's Cave (Namibia) sheep finds. This makes the Blydefontein sheep the oldest yet to suggest the early presence of pastoralists in the east-central Karoo. These results, however, conflict with recently published aDNA results. We discuss the osteometry and the distinguishing morphological features of the sheep and sheep/goat bones and compare these to the taxa identified on the aDNA. The results confirm our earlier identifications and show conclusively that the aDNA analysis produced spurious identifications.
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Horizontal cores from a large stalagmite and two tufa deposits in the entrance to Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, dated by radiocarbon methods, have provided climate proxy data on late Holocene environments near the cave. The δ18O and δ13C time series from stalagmite Core WW1–3 and tufa Core WW3 correlate well with isotope records for other sites in the summer rainfall zone of southern Africa and suggest that late Holocene warm periods in the Northern Hemisphere, including the Medieval Warm period, Roman Warm period, and Minoan Warm period, were times of increased moisture in this rainfall zone. In contrast, late Holocene cold intervals in the Northern Hemisphere, including the Dark Ages Cold period and Sub-Atlantic Cold period, were times of drier climate in the summer rainfall zone. Comparison of the Wonderwerk records with information on human settlement patterns, agricultural expansion or decline, and population growth or decline, shows that growth occurred preferentially during wetter climate periods and declines, including the abandonment of the important town of Mupungubwe in the Shashe-Limpopo area of northeast South Africa and the fall of Great Zimbabwe, which occurred during periods of low precipitation.
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The Blydefontein Rock Shelter is a Later Stone Age archaeological site in the eastern Karoo of South Africa. No remains of domesticated animals have been reported although a dung layer, interpreted as deriving from sheep, dates to approximately one thousand years ago. The published morphological analyses of the site’s fauna include many wild taxa, but also report that the majority of the bones in the assemblage were too fragmentary to identify. A recent re-examination of the assemblage identified ten specimens as examples of sheep or goats. In this paper we report on ancient DNA research on the eight specimens we were sent to study, six of which have preserved DNA. Of these, five are examples of wild animals, all of which had been previously identified as present at the site. One specimen was confirmed as a sheep, and it likely comes from a layer that dates to a period well after the initial introduction of domesticates. Direct dating of the specimen is not possible as the entire sample was consumed by the genetic testing. This study highlights the importance of ancient DNA as confirmation of taxon identification when the results of morphological identification challenge the broader culture history.
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Count rates, representing the rate of 14 C decay, are the basic data obtained in a 14 C laboratory. The conversion of this information into an age or geochemical parameters appears a simple matter at first. However, the path between counting and suitable 14 C data reporting (table 1) causes headaches to many. Minor deflections in pathway, depending on personal interpretations, are possible and give end results that are not always useful for inter-laboratory comparisons. This discussion is an attempt to identify some of these problems and to recommend certain procedures by which reporting ambiguities can be avoided.
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Indigenous sheep of Kenya are very important to resource-poor farmers and pastoralists. They have over time adapted to the harsh environmental conditions of the arid and semi-arid lands where they are faced with challenges of persistent droughts, diseases, conflicts and poor nutrition, yet show resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes. In recent years, these indigenous sheep populations have been crossbred indiscriminately to exotic breeds particularly the Dorper. A study was undertaken to determine the level of genetic diversity and relatedness between the various sheep populations and breeds of Kenya. This paper reports results on the genetic diversity and admixture observed using microsatellite DNA markers.
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The Southern Hemisphere SHCal04 radiocarbon calibration curve has been updated with the addition of new data sets extending measurements to 2145 cal BP and including the ANSTO Younger Dryas Huon pine data set. Outside the range of measured data, the curve is based upon the ern Hemisphere data sets as presented in IntCal13, with an interhemi-spheric offset averaging 43 ± 23 yr modeled by an autoregressive process to represent the short-term correlations in the offset.
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The 1950s excavations by Charles McBurney in the Haua Fteah, a large karstic cave on the coast of northeast Libya, revealed a deep sequence of human occupation. Most subsequent research on North African prehistory refers to his discoveries and interpretations, but the chronology of its archaeological and geological sequences has been based on very early age determinations. This paper reports on the initial results of a comprehensive multi-method dating program undertaken as part of new work at the site, involving radiocarbon dating of charcoal, land snails and marine shell, cryptotephra investigations, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments, and electron spin resonance (ESR) dating of tooth enamel. The dating samples were collected from the newly exposed and cleaned faces of the upper 7.5 m of the ∼14.0 m-deep McBurney trench, which contain six of the seven major cultural phases that he identified. Despite problems of sediment transport and reworking, using a Bayesian statistical model the new dating program establishes a robust framework for the five major lithostratigraphic units identified in the stratigraphic succession, and for the major cultural units. The age of two anatomically modern human mandibles found by McBurney in Layer XXXIII near the base of his Levalloiso-Mousterian phase can now be estimated to between 73 and 65 ka (thousands of years ago) at the 95.4% confidence level, within Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 4. McBurney's Layer XXV, associated with Upper Palaeolithic Dabban blade industries, has a clear stratigraphic relationship with Campanian Ignimbrite tephra. Microlithic Oranian technologies developed following the climax of the Last Glacial Maximum and the more microlithic Capsian in the Younger Dryas. Neolithic pottery and perhaps domestic livestock were used in the cave from the mid Holocene but there is no certain evidence for plant cultivation until the Graeco-Roman period.
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Indigenous African sheep genetic resources have been classified into two main groups, fat-tailed and thin-tailed sheep. The fat-tailed sheep are the most widely distributed, being found in a large part of North Africa (from Egypt to Algeria) and in Eastern and Southern Africa (from Eritrea to South Africa). The thin-tailed sheep are present mainly in Morocco, Sudan and in West Africa. African sheep were domesticated outside Africa. They share a common ancestry with European and Asian sheep. Archaeological information supports separate introductions and dispersion histories for the African thin-tailed and fat-tailed sheep. The first sheep entered Africa via the Isthmus of Suez and/or the southern Sinai Peninsula, between 7500 and 7000 BP. They were likely of the thin-tailed type. Fat-tailed sheep entered Africa through its northeastern part and the Horn of Africa. Mitochondrial DNA analysis supports a common maternal ancestral origin for all African sheep, while autosomal and Y chromosome DNA analysis indicates a distinct genetic history for African thin-tailed and sub-Saharan fat-tailed sheep. The main ancestral population of southern African fat-tailed sheep likely originated in East Africa. Further work is needed to assess the possible dispersion of sheep from western Africa to the southern African regions.
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Domesticated cattle were commonplace in northern Africa by about 7,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests they were not established in southern Africa until much later, no earlier than 2,000 years ago. Genetic reconstructions have started to shed light on the movement of African cattle, but efforts have been frustrated by a lack of data south of Ethiopia and the nature of the mitochondrial haplogroup T1 which is almost fixed across the continent. We sequenced 35 complete mitochondrial genomes from a South African herd of Nguni cattle, a breed historically associated with Bantu speaking farmers who were among the first to bring cattle to southern Africa. As expected, all individuals in the study were found to be members of haplogroup T1. Only half of the sub-haplogroups of T1 (T1a-T1f) are represented in our sample and the overwhelming majority (94%) in this study belong to subhaplogroup T1b. A previous study of African cattle found frequencies of T1b of 27% in Egypt and 69% in Ethiopia. These results are consistent with serial multiple founder effects significantly shaping the gene pool as cattle were moved from north to south across the continent. Interestingly, these mitochondrial data give no indication that the impacts of the founder effects were ameliorated by gene flow from recently introduced Indian cattle breeds.
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Radiocarbon dating is routinely used in paleoecology to build chronologies of lake and peat sediments, aiming at inferring a model that would relate the sediment depth with its age. We present a new approach for chronology building (called "Bacon") that has received enthusiastic attention by paleoecologists. Our methodology is based on controlling core accumulation rates using a gamma autoregressive semiparametric model with an arbitrary number of subdivisions along the sediment. Using prior knowledge about accumulation rates is crucial and informative priors are routinely used. Since many sediment cores are currently analyzed, using different data sets and prior distributions, a robust (adaptive) MCMC is very useful. We use the t-walk (Christen and Fox, 2010), a self adjusting, robust MCMC sampling algorithm, that works acceptably well in many situations. Outliers are also addressed using a recent approach that considers a Student-t model for radiocarbon data. Two examples are presented here, that of a peat core and a core from a lake, and our results are compared with other approaches.
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The wide availability of precise radiocarbon dates has allowed researchers in a number of disciplines to address chronological questions at a resolution which was not possible 10 or 20 years ago. The use of Bayesian statistics for the analysis of groups of dates is becoming a common way to integrate all of the 14C evidence together. However, the models most often used make a number of assumptions that may not always be appropriate. In particular, there is an assumption that all of the 14C measurements are correct in their context and that the original 14C concentration of the sample is properly represented by the calibration curve. © 2009 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
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When did cattle come to South Africa? Radiocarbon dates on a newly found cow horn indicates a time in the early first millennium AD. In a study of the likely context for the advent of cattle herding, the authors favour immigrants moving along a western route through Namibia.
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During the laboratory pretreatment of samples for radiocarbon dating, small amounts of carbon may be added to a sample. Contamination can be incorporated at any stage: during chemical pretreatment, combustion to CO2, graphitization, or accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurement. Such carbon contamination is often modern in age, and so can have an especially severe effect on samples older than ~25 ka BP. During the extraction of collagen from bone using the ultrafiltration protocol at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU), small amounts of young carbon are added to the sample. Currently, this contamination is poorly characterized when less than 10 mg of collagen is extracted from a bone. Demand to date small collagen samples with 14C concentrations that approach the detection limit of AMS measurement has increased recently with the growing interest in, for example, directly dating Neanderthal remains and Upper Paleolithic bone artifacts. This paper aims to reduce the minimum collagen sample size required to produce a reliable date from 10 to 5 mg by re-examining the combustion background and subsequently the pretreatment background for bone. The average of 136 measurements of directly combusted nylon suggests that 0.0007 ± 0.001 mg of modern carbon is added to each sample, although the distribution is positively skewed. Regression analysis of the measurements of 52 collagen samples extracted from a bone of background age results in a background of just less than 50,000 BP for bone treated at ORAU. © 2010 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
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In this paper, we summarize the main chemical pretreatment protocols currently used for AMS radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, updating the protocols last described by Hedges et al. (1989). © 2010 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
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1 Introduction - Volume 24 - Lewis R. Binford, Sally R. Binford, Robert Whallon, Margaret Ann Hardin
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In March of 2005, the Texas Department of Transportation issued work authorization #575-01-SA005 to the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at the University of Texas at San Antonio to conduct a survey of areas affected by proposed improvements to the Plainview hike and bike trail in southern Plainview, Hale County, Texas. The survey was conduced under Texas Antiquities Permit #3707 between March 31 and April 7, 2005. Steve Tomka and Raymond Mauldin served as Principal Investigators. Trail construction included 2.0 miles of additional construction and 1.3 miles of improvements to existing trails. The Right-of-Way is 50 feet and extends from one to three feet below ground surface. Archeological services included a pedestrian survey, excavation of fifty-five auger tests placed no more than 100 m apart, and twenty-one Gradall trenches. Two of these trenches exposed the stratigraphy of Running Water Draw near the Plainview Site, 41HA1. Bulk samples were collected for OSL dating, diatoms analysis, and lithologic analysis for further examination of the age and stratigraphic context of the Plainview Site, which is a State Archeological Landmark, a National Landmark, and a National Register of Historic Places property. Site 41HA12 was re-examined with 10 mechanical auger tests and 1 trench, which found only recent alluvial and cultural deposition. No additional archeological sites were recorded. This report includes descriptions of the fieldwork, results of the special analyses performed on bulk sediment samples collected, and a discussion of the geomorphology of Running Water Draw with specific focus on the results from trenches excavated near the Plainview Site. The single artifact and all documents and photographs generated from this project are curated at the Center for Archaeological Research at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
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The wide availability of precise radiocarbon dates has allowed researchers in a number of disciplines to address chronological questions at a resolution which was not possible 10 or 20 years ago. The use of Bayesian statistics for the analysis of groups of dates is becoming a common way to integrate all of the ¹⁴ C evidence together. However, the models most often used make a number of assumptions that may not always be appropriate. In particular, there is an assumption that all of the ¹⁴ C measurements are correct in their context and that the original ¹⁴ C concentration of the sample is properly represented by the calibration curve. In practice, in any analysis of dates some are usually rejected as obvious outliers. However, there are Bayesian statistical methods which can be used to perform this rejection in a more objective way (Christen 1994b), but these are not often used. This paper discusses the underlying statistics and application of these methods, and extensions of them, as they are implemented in OxCal v 4.1. New methods are presented for the treatment of outliers, where the problems lie principally with the context rather than the ¹⁴ C measurement. There is also a full treatment of outlier analysis for samples that are all of the same age, which takes account of the uncertainty in the calibration curve. All of these Bayesian approaches can be used either for outlier detection and rejection or in a model averaging approach where dates most likely to be outliers are downweighted. Another important subject is the consistent treatment of correlated uncertainties between a set of measurements and the calibration curve. This has already been discussed by Jones and Nicholls (2001) in the case of marine reservoir offsets. In this paper, the use of a similar approach for other kinds of correlated offset (such as overall measurement bias or regional offsets in the calibration curve) is discussed and the implementation of these methods in OxCal v 4.0 is presented.
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The first series of C 14 dating measurements made in the Gulbenkian Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, which came into operation in October 1962, are reported in the following list.
Article
The following list of dates was compiled since 1967 (R., 1967, v. 9, p. 382-386). Procedures of measurements are essentially unchanged from those reported previously (R., 1964, v. 6, p. 31-36; 1966, v. 8, p. 423-429). The only major change in procedure is that the practice adopted in previous date lists of widening the errors due to fluctuations in C 14 content of the exchange reservoir has been discontinued. This leaves the users free to apply the necessary corrections as they become available, e.g., Stuiver and Suess (1966) and Ralph and Michael (1969). The two gas proportional counters were rebuilt in 1968. It was found that outgassing the polytetrafluoroethylene insulators at 100°C under vacuum for 48 hours prior to reassembling the counters considerably hastened attainment of stable operating conditions.
Book
The stone tools and fossil bones from the earliest archaeological sites in Africa have been used over the past fifty years to create models that interpret how early hominins lived, foraged, behaved, and communicated, and how early and modern humans evolved. In this book, an international team of archaeologists and primatologists examines early Stone Age tools and bones and uses scientific methods to test alternative hypotheses that explain the archaeological record. By focusing on both lithics and faunal records, this volume presents the most holistic view to date of the archaeology of human origins.
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Radiocarbon dating is routinely used in paleoecology to build chronologies of lake and peat sediments, aiming at inferring a model that would relate the sediment depth with its age. We present a new approach for chronology building (called "Bacon") that has received enthusiastic attention by paleoecologists. Our methodology is based on controlling core accumulation rates using a gamma autoregressive semiparametric model with an arbitrary number of subdivisions along the sediment. Using prior knowledge about accumulation rates is crucial and informative priors are routinely used. Since many sediment cores are currently analyzed, using different data sets and prior distributions, a robust (adaptive) MCMC is very useful. We use the t-walk (Christen and Fox, 2010), a self adjusting, robust MCMC sampling algorithm, that works acceptably well in many situations. Outliers are also addressed using a recent approach that considers a Student-t model for radiocarbon data. Two examples are presented here, that of a peat core and a core from a lake, and our results are compared with other approaches.
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The objective of this study was to test a variety of ground meat products sold on the U.S. commercial market for the presence of potential mislabeling. Forty-eight ground meat samples were purchased from online and retail sources, including both supermarkets and specialty meat retailers. DNA was extracted from each sample in duplicate and tested using DNA barcoding of the cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene. The resulting sequences were identified at the species level using the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). Any samples that failed DNA barcoding went through repeat extraction and sequencing, and due to the possibility of a species mixture, they were tested with real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork and horse. Of the 48 samples analyzed in this study, 38 were labeled correctly and 10 were found to be mislabeled. Nine of the mislabeled samples were found to contain additional meat species based on real-time PCR, and one sample was mislabeled in its entirety. Interestingly, meat samples ordered from online specialty meat distributors had a higher rate of being mislabeled (35%) compared to samples purchased from a local butcher (18%) and samples purchased at local supermarkets (5.8%). Horsemeat, which is illegal to sell on the U.S. commercial market, was detected in two of the samples acquired from online specialty meat distributors. Overall, the mislabeling detected in this study appears to be due to either intentional mixing of lower-cost meat species into higher cost products or unintentional mixing of meat species due to cross-contamination during processing.
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Conventional wisdom has it that ceramic technology reached southernmost Africa with or just ahead of the so-called Iron Age, Bantu migrations of ca 2000 years ago. A review of the evidence suggests that the earliest ceramics in the subcontinent are thin-walled and smooth surfaced vessels, technologically quite distinct from the first thick-walled, coarse surfaced "Iron Age" ware of the subcontinent, and predating the latter by two to four centuries. There is no published evidence of a thin-walled ware to the north of the Zambezi, although undated examples are known from coastal Angola. It seems unlikely that the thin-walled wares in southernmost Africa represent a residue of some mass human migration in the distant past. It is more likely that the art of making fired clay pots reached the subcontinent through archaeologically invisible infiltrations by small groups, perhaps peripatetic artisans; or it may have been invented locally.
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The production of evidence for scientific hypotheses and theories often depends upon complex instruments and techniques for employing them. An important epistemological question arises as to how the reliability of these instruments and techniques is assessed. To address that question, this paper examines the introduction of electron microscopy and cell fractionation in cell biology. One important claim is that scientists often arrive at their techniques for employing instruments like the electron microscope and the ultracentrifuge by tinkering and that they evaluate the resulting techniques in part by whether they produce plausible data given developing theories.
Article
We examined different concentrations of HCl, such as 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2 M, for decalcification of fossil bones and different times of 0.1 M NaOH treatment on collagens to determine the best conditions for purifying collagen through extraction of humic contaminants, and compared the alkali treatment method with the XAD-2 treatment method for several types of fossils. The yield of acid-insoluble bone fractions did not change over the range from 0.4 to 1.0 M HCl and decreased suddenly with 1.2 M HCl on decalcification, and the 14C ages of the extracted gelatins from the five decalcified fractions were unchanged, suggesting that <1.0 M, and probably about 0.4 M, is recommended to the best concentration of HCl to decalcify fossil bones efficiently. The alkali treatment was done with 0.1 M NaOH at room temperature. The NaOH-treated collagens, with a considerable loss of organic bone protein especially for long treatment time, gave almost the same 14C ages as those of the XAD-purified hydrolysates. The NaOH-treatment time should be less than several hours to avoid a loss of collagen. The fossil bones used are relatively well-preserved, but the alkali treatment could bring about a lot of loss of organic bone proteins for poorly-preserved bones. The XAD-2 treatment method is effective for accurate radiocarbon dating of fossil bones, if the XAD-2 resin is completely pre-cleaned.
Article
The diet selection of Angora and Boer goats, and Dorper and Merino sheep was studied in the Noorsveld to ascertain differences in their food preferences. This information will facilitate the identification of possible goat and sheep combinations to improve the utilization of this veld type. Dorper and Merino sheep and Angora goats selected very similar diets while the diet selected by Boer goats differed by approximately 30% from those of the other animals. We therefore hypothesise that a combination of Boer goats and either Merino or Dorper sheep in the appropriate ratio could lead to the improved utilization of Noorsveld. This needs further investigation as intake of preferred plants may additionally play an important role in establishing better stock ratios.
Article
The diet selected by Afrino, Dorper and Merino sheep, and Angora goats was studied in the Arid Karoo at Carnarvon. The diets selected by these small stock species and breeds was established through breed by breed comparisons, with a view to raising the stocking rate by combining different breeds. It was established by means of the d‐index, that the diets differed by only 4% to 5% during the growing season. This margin is too small to recommend combining small stock breeds in an effort to ensure greater utilization efficiency through multiple use of the vegetation. During the dormant seasons the diets differed by 14% to 21%. Although this represents a large margin, stocking rate adjustments are made on the basis of the growing season's results.
Article
Distinguishing between sheep and goats in C4 grass environments using new dental morphology criteria and enamel bioapatite stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) was tested on 35 modern individuals from the Central Rift Valley of Kenya. Two morphological criteria on the second and third lower molars, one of which had been previously partially described by Halstead et al. [Journal of Archaeological Science 29 (2002) 545], were found to be highly reliable in this population. Identification of species using carbon isotope ratios is made possible in some circumstances by differences in the feeding behavior of sheep, which are mainly grazers, and goats, which are mainly browsers. In environments where C4 grasses predominate, sheep include a higher proportion of C4 plants in their diet, and thus have higher δ13C values than goats. In the present study, the annual range and seasonal variation of carbon isotope ratio of diet of sheep and goats was measured from intra-tooth sequential analysis. Although the ranges of goat and sheep δ13C values overlap, those higher than −3.4‰ all belong to sheep; values lower than −5.2‰ all belong to goats. There is no overlap of the mean δ13C values by tooth, which range from −11.8‰ to −4.2‰ for goats, and from −3.1‰ to −1.3‰ for sheep. These results suggest that carbon isotope analysis of bone collagen and/or apatite will also distinguish sheep from goats in tropical C4 grasslands. Application of the δ13C criteria to archaeological material must be restricted to C4-dominated environments, and where potential access to C3 plants (mobility, foddering) can be assessed. The utility of these morphological and isotopic criteria for differentiating sheep and goat breeds in other regions remains to be evaluated.
Article
The quality of bone collagen extracts is central to the14C dating and isotope palaeodietary analysis of bone. The intactness and purity of the extracted gelatin (“collagen”) is strongly dependent on the extent of diagenetic degradation, contamination and the type of extraction method. Possible chemical, elemental and isotopic parameters for the assessment of “collagen” quality are discussed. The most important distinction that can be made is the one between contaminated bone (mostly from temperate zones), and bone low in collagen content (mostly from arid and tropical zones). The latter shows more variability in all quality parameters than the former. The natural level of contamination is mostly so low that stable isotopic measurements are not impaired, although14C measurements can be. It is concluded that there is no unequivocal way to detect natural levels of contamination with the discussed parameters, although their use can identify many cases. In low “collagen” bone, the parameters can identify the great majority of problematic samples: although deviations in these parameters do not necessarily mean isotopic alterations, the increased background found in these samples makes most samples unusable.
Article
TheC/Nratio and amino acid composition of organic matter extracted from fossil mammal bones from the Paleolithic site at Marillac (Charentes, France) shown that this organic matter comes from collagen.δ13Candδ15Nvalues of known-diet fossil species demonstrate that these values have been preserved through fossilization processes, and that these fossil mammals can be used as ecological references to determine the Neandertal position in the past food web. Initial Neandertalδ13Candδ15N values suggest that he was mostly carnivorous.RésuméLes rapportsC/N et le spectre d'accides amine´s de la matie`re organique extraite des ossements de mammife`res fossiles du site de Marillac (Charentes, France) montrent que cette matie`re organique provient du collage`ne. Les valeurs deδ13Cet deδ15N de mammaife`res fossiles dont le re´gime alimentaire est connu de´montrent que ces valeurs n'ont pase´te´alte´re´es par la fossilisation et donc ces mammifr`es fossiles peuvent servir de standardse´cologiques pour replacer l'Homme de Ne´anderthal dans son re´seau trophique. Les premie`res valeurs deδ13C et deδ15N mesure´es pour cet homme sugge`rent qu'ile´tait essentiellement carnivore.
Article
The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) has used an ultrafiltration protocol to further purify gelatin from archaeological bone since 2000. In this paper, the methodology is described, and it is shown that, in many instances, ultrafiltration successfully removes low molecular weight contaminants that less rigorous methods may not. These contami- nants can sometimes be of a different radiocarbon age and, unless removed, may produce erroneous determinations, particu- larly when one is dating bones greater than 2 to 3 half-lives of 14C and the contaminants are of modern age. Results of the redating of bone of Late Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic age from the British Isles and Europe suggest that we may need to look again at the traditional chronology for these periods.
Article
Bone is one of the most widely used materials for dating archaeological activity. It is also relatively difficult to pretreat effectively and new methods are an area of active research. The purpose of the chemical pretreatment of bone is to remove contaminants present from burial and to do so in a way which does not add any additional laboratory contaminant. To some extent, these two aims must be balanced since, on the whole, the more complex the procedure and the more steps included, the greater the chance for contamination. At the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit {(ORAU)}, the method used is a continuous-flow or manual acid/base/acid {(ABA)} treatment followed by gelatinization and ultrafiltration (based on Brown et al. [1988]; documented in Bronk Ramsey et al. [2000]). We find this overall method is very effective at removing more recent contamination in old bones. However, two aspects of the method have recently been improved and are reported here: the redesign of {ORAU's} continuous flow pretreatment and a new protocol in our pretreatment ultrafiltration stage.
Article
Since its introduction in 19771, stable isotope analysis of bone collagen has been widely used to reconstruct aspects of prehistoric human and animal diets2–11. This method of dietary analysis is based on two well-established observations, and on an assumption that has never been tested. The first observation is that bone collagen 13C/12C and 15N/14N ratios reflect the corresponding isotope ratio of an animal's diet1–5,12. The second is that groups of foods have characteristically different 13C/12C and/or 15N/14N ratios13,14. Taken together, the two observations indicate that the isotope ratios of collagen in the bones of a living animal reflect the amounts of these groups of foods that the animal ate. Thus, it has been possible to use fresh bone collagen 13C/12C ratios to determine the relative consumption of C3 and C4 plants15–17, while 13C/12C and 15N/14N ratios have been used to distinguish between the use of marine and terrestrial foods14. The 15N/14N ratios of fresh bone collagen probably also reflect the use of leguminous and non-leguminous plants as food5, but this has not yet been demonstrated. Prehistoric consumption of these same groups of foods has been reconstructed from isotope ratios of collagen extracted from fossil bone1–11. Implicit in the application of the isotopic method to prehistoric material is the assumption that bone collagen isotope ratios have not been modified by postmortem processes. Here I present the first examination of the validity of this assumption. The results show that postmortem alteration of bone collagen isotope ratios does occur, but that it is possible to identify prehistoric bones whose collagen has not undergone such alteration.
Article
The fossil record is paleontology's great resource, telling us virtually everything we know about the past history of life. This record, which has been accumulating since the beginning of paleontology as a professional discipline in the early nineteenth century, is a collection of objects. The fossil record exists literally, in the specimen drawers where fossils are kept, and figuratively, in the illustrations and records of fossils compiled in paleontological atlases and compendia. However, as has become increasingly clear since the later twentieth century, the fossil record is also a record of data. Paleontologists now routinely abstract information from the physical fossil record to construct databases that serve as the basis for quantitative analysis of patterns in the history of life. What is the significance of this distinction? While it is often assumed that the orientation towards treating the fossil record as a record of data is an innovation of the computer age, it turns out that nineteenth century paleontology was substantially "data driven." This paper traces the evolution of data practices and analyses in paleontology, primarily through examination of the compendia in which the fossil record has been recorded over the past 200 years. I argue that the transition towards conceptualizing the fossil record as a record of data began long before the emergence of the technologies associated with modern databases (such as digital computers and modern statistical methods). I will also argue that this history reveals how new forms of visual representation were associated with the transition from seeing the fossil record as a record of objects to one of data or information, which allowed paleontologists to make new visual arguments about their data. While these practices and techniques have become increasingly sophisticated in recent decades, I will show that their basic methodology was in place over a century ago, and that, in a sense, paleontology has always been a "data driven" science.
Article
a b s t r a c t In order to define criteria for long-term climate change models in Southern Africa, an overview of the available pollen data during the Late Quaternary is needed. Here we reassess the paleo-climatic condi-tions in southern Africa by synthesising available fossil pollen data that can provide new insights in environmental change processes. The data considered here include the latest as well as previously published information that has been difficult to assess. Available calibrated pollen sequences spanning the Late Pleistocene and Holocene were subjected to Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to monitor taxa sensitive to moisture and temperature fluctuations. The PCA values are presented graphically as indicators of climate variability for the region. The results cover different biomes that include the summer-rain region in the north and east, the winter-rain area in the south and the dry zone in the west. The PCA plots directly reflect major changes of terrestrial environments due to variations in temperature and moisture. Mostly sub-humid but fluctuating conditions are indicated during the cold Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 2, which were followed by a dry phase soon after the beginning of the Holocene but before the middle Holocene in the northern, central and eastern parts of the sub-continent. Marked but non-parallel moisture changes occurred in different subregions during the Holocene suggesting that climatic forcing was not uniform over the entire region. Some events seemed to have had a more uniform effect over the sub-continent, e.g., a relatively dry summer rain event at c. two thousand years ago, which can possibly be related to the ENSO phenomenon. The role of anthropogenic activities in some of the most recent vegetation shifts is likely.