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Canine Domestication

It has been suggested that ~14,000 BCE [1] the final transition from wild (Canis lupus) towards domesticated (Canis familiaris) took place in present day China.(Savolainen[2] et al, 2002)

Canine Domestication

Canis familiaris [3]

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  • Eurasia
  • Bering Strait
  • Americas
  • Far East
  • Japan
  • South East Asia
  • Australia
  • Middle East
  • AFRICA

Early Dogs from the Middle East

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  • Excavation of a Natufian tomb in Israel dated 10,000 BCE. (Davis & Valla, [4] 1978).
  • A man and a puppy are buried together. The human's hand is lying on the little dog. This is a possible indication of an existing affectionate bond.
  • Descendants of such dogs presumably populated Africa.

Early Dogs from the Middle East

Archaeological Records

Archaeological Records of the Earliest Evidence and Dispersal of Canis familiaris in Africa, North of the Equator

Date BCE Region Site Reference Form
4,700 Egypt Nabta Playa Gautier Fossil
4,500 Egypt Merimde Boesneck Fossil
4,000 Egypt Maadi Boesneck Fossil
3,700 Egypt Hierakonpolis Hendrickx Ceramics
3,500 Algeria Magreb Roubet-Carter Rock Art
3,500 Niger Tassili-Hoggar Brentjes Rock Art
3,300 Sudan Kadera Gautier Fossil
1,750 Sudan Kerma Chaix Fossil
1,500 Kenia Central Rift Gifford/Gonzalez  
1,400 Niger In Gall Paris Fossil
250 Niger Jenne-Jeno McIntosch Fossil
Date CE [5]        
350 Senegal Tulel-Fobo Van Neer Fossil
400 Mali Akumbu MacDonald Fossil

 

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Earliest evidence

Earliest evidence for Canis familiaris on the African Continent

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Earliest evidence

5th Millennium BCE

  • 4,700 BCE at Nabta Playa (Gautier, personal comment)
  • 4,500 BCE at Merimde Beni Salame (Boessneck [6], 1988)
  • 4,500 BCE at Maadi (Boessneck, 1988)

4th Millennium BCE

  • Extension from the lower river Nile into other Neolithic centers in Northern Africa.
  • Confluence of White and Blue Nile in Nubia (present day Khartoum in Sudan).
  • Mountainous areas in the Sahara (Magreb, Tibesti, Hoggar, Tassili).

4th Millennium BCE

4th Millennium BCE

Pre-dynastic Tesem

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Two slender gaze hounds wearing collars (top right) are pursuing a hare and an antelope. This is detail from decorated pottery found near Hierakonpolis (Egypt) and dated 3,700 BCE. (Hendrickx [7], 1992)

4th Millennium BCE

Pre-dynastic Tesem

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Hilzheimer (1926) describes and shows details from pottery associated with the Naqada 1 culture (dated ca. 3,500 BCE) and found near Hierakonpolis.

4th Millennium BCE

4th Millennium BCE

Pre-dynastic hunting scene

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Tesem hunting antelope. Tomb Udumu, 1st Dynasty. (Boessneck,1988).

4th Millennium BCE

Pre-dynastic brachycephalic dogs

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Engravings on an ivory sceptre head found in Hierakonpolis, showing a row of lions and broad-skulled dogs (Quibell [8], 1900, cited in Osborn and Osbernová, 1998)

4th Millennium BCE

4th Millennium BCE

Rock art in Sahara mountains

history illustration 05 bigCave rock art:

Hunting scene with dogs. Found in Hill station at Sefar, Tassili-n-Ajjer , Algeria. Dated c. 3,700 BCE. (Méry [9], 1968).

 

 

3rd Millennium BCE

From the Sahara into the Sahel

  • According to archaeological records, the dog progressively occupied the present day Sahel zone.
  • Its moving frontier then stopped for about 1,000 years.
  • The Equatorial Forest may have obstructed further migration of Stone Age herdsmen.

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3rd Millennium BCE

4th Millennium BCE

Dogs of Ancient Egypt

Neolithic communities along the lower river Nile joined forces and laid the foundations for the Old Kingdom . The first Pharaoh came to rule in 3,250 BCE. By that time the dog had moved beyond the borders of present day Egypt.

Multiple artistic expressions provide proof that during the successive reigns of the Pharaohs, the aristocracy was in a position to breed dogs selectively.

Artworks indicate that the commoners raised dogs for utilitarian purposes.

Numerous embalmed dogs have been found, indicating that this animal was integral to Ancient Egyptian mythology.

4th Millennium BCE

Dogs of the Ancient Egyptian Aristocracy

history illustration 06A sight hound (Tesem) with hanging ears followed by an achondroplastic bitch with pricked ears. Tomb of Sarenput 1., early 12. dynasty (Boessneck, 1988)

 

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Hunting scene in the desert. Tomb Antefoker, 12. dyn. (Boessneck, J., 1988).

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Servants at work in the company of Tesem. Mus. Kairo Nr 1562, 5. dynasty (Boessneck, 1988)

4th Millennium BCE

4th Millennium BCE

Ancient Egyptian Dogs

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Common village dog. Gise, tomb, 2184, 5/6 dyn. (Boessneck,1988)

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Tomb Achethotep 5 dyn. (Boessneck,1988)

history illustration 11The hieroglyphic sign for the dog. (Siber [10], 1893 cited in Tschudy, 1923)

Common village dogs as well as selectively bred dogs of the aristocracy flourished throughout Neolithic days and the Bronze- and Iron Ages in Ancient Egypt.

The Bantu Migration

The Early Iron Age Bantu Migration & Expansion

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The event of the Iron Age in association with political pressure in the North due to Roman occupation, might have urged some Bantu people to look for greener pastures to the South.

The movement started 2,000 years ago from the savanna bordering Cameroon and Nigeria . (Huffman [11], 1997).

 

bantu herdsman with mule and africanis

The Bantu Migration

The Bantu Migration

Moving south of the Equator

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Bantu migration along the Great Rift Valley:

in search of grazing in the southern savanna, and to save their cattle from trypanosoma infection caused by the tsetse fly, they followed tsetse-free corridors.

 

 

 

 

The Iron Age South of the Equator

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The sub-equatorial Iron Age is divided into: Early (200 – 1,000 CE) and Late (1,000 – 1,800 CE) Iron Age.

The Early Iron Age introduced the use of iron implements, agriculture, cattle herding and the dog to southern Africa.

The Iron Age South of the Equator

The Southern Tip of Africa

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Early Iron Age sites recorded the presence of the dog:

  • 570 CE - Limpopo river-border Botswana.(Plug [12], 2000)
  • 650 CE - lower Thukela river (Van Schalkwyk [13], 1994)
  • 800 CE - Cape St. Francis (Chappel, 1968). This was a Khoisan site suggesting that the Early Iron Age Bantu speakers had made contact with the local population

The Enigma of the Historical Khoikhoi Dog

During the Stone Age, Khoikhoi herders reached the most southern tip of Africa by the beginning of the CE. However, only remains of sheep dating that far back have been found at these sites. Remains of the dog only date back from 800 CE onward, once the Bantu people arrived.

 

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The Enigma of the Historical Khoikhoi Dog

Contact with Western Civilization

history illustration 12Portuguese explorers cast anchor at St. Helena Bay in late 1497. Vasco da Gama’s diary refers to the Khoikhoi and domestic dogs in southern Africa: "They have many dogs like those of Portugal which bark as do these."

 

A Khoikhoi family preparing for travel. Painting Daniell Khoikhoi (1804). (Transvaal Museum Library)

 

Early Ethnographers

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Theal writing on conditions in Southern Africa before 1505, describing the cattle, sheep and dogs of the Khoisan people:

"The only other domestic animal was the dog. He was an ugly creature, his body being shaped like that of a jackal, and the hair on his spine being turned forward; but he was a faithful, serviceable animal of his kind"

 (Khoikhoi family in the early 1700’s Artist unknown. S.A. Library.)

Early Ethnographers

Early Travelers

history image 06Kollb in 1713 describes the Khoisan dogs:

"They have a small head and a very sharp muzzle. The coat is mouse-grey. They are seldom higher than one el and barely one third longer. The ears are erect and sharp."

(A mouse-grey, ridged and prick-eared dog in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Johan Gallant (1995))

Bushman Rock Art

Bushmen hunted for ages without dogs. The practice was introduced with the arrival of the Early Iron Age.

 

history illustration 14

 

Hunters carrying bows, arrows, quivers and a brush or fly-switch, accompanied by dogs.

 

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Baboon hunting scene
Rock art San hunt P. Vinicombe

Bushman Rock Art

Possible Foreign Impact?

history image 07Possible foreign impact by:

  • Arab traders (8th century)
  • Eastern seafarers (10th century)
  • Late Iron Age (11th century)
  • Portuguese explorers (15th century)
  • Dutch settlers at the Cape (1652)
  • British settlers (1820)
  • Anglo-Zulu war (1879)

 

Genetic Relationship

history image 08Blood samples from desert bred Saluqis in the Middle East and Native African Dogs in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) indicate an ancient genetic relationship between these dogs. (Greyling [14], 2004).

For more information on the genetic diversity and structure in indigenous AfriCanis dogs from southern Africa, click here.

(Africanis from Northern KwaZulu-Natal)

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(Desert bred Saluqi by Dr.Gail Goodman)

Genetic Relationship

References cited on page (in order of appearance)

1. BCE

Before Common Era. Back

2. Savolainen

Savolainen, P., Zhang Y., Luo J., Lundeberg J. and Leitner T. (2002) Genetic Evidence for an East Asian Origin of Domestic Dogs. Science 298:1610-1613. Back

3. Canis Familiaris

"AfriCanis" combines Africa (the continent) and the genus Canis (the Latin name for dog). As such it is the umbrella name for ALL sub-equatorial African Aboriginal Dogs.

Genus Canis: Class - Mammalia, Order - Carnivora, Family – Canidae

In total there are 38 species classified in the family of Canidae. Next to the genus Canis there are other genera including all the foxes, the Dhole of East- and Central Asia , the various Zorros of South America and other wild canidae found in various parts of the world. The following are the 8 species constituting the genus Canis. They all have the same number of chromosomes (2-n = 78) and hybridisation resulting in fertile offspring has been recorded.

(Lycaon pictus - the Cape hunting dog - belongs to the family of Canidae but NOT to the genus Canis).

Genus Canis
Canis lupus: wolf (Europe, Asia, N.America, Arctic)
Canis familiaris: domestic dog (worldwide)
Canis aureus: golden jackal (SE. Europe, N. Africa, SE. Asia)
Canis mesomelas: black-backed jackal (Africa south of the Sahara)
Canis adustus: side-striped jackal (Africa south of the Sahara)
Canis latrans: coyote (N. America)
Canis rufus: red wolf (Central N. America)
Canis simensis: Simien wolf (mountains of Ethiopia)

Canis familiaris - The domestic dog

We don't know where and when precisely the transition from wild to domestic canis took place.. Most authors agree that the wolf is the closest wild relative. Recent publications point at the Far East as region of origin for the dog. A date of approximately 14,000 years BCE is suggested with real house bonding to be associated with the earliest Mesolithic villages roughly 10,000 years ago. From its cradle of origin the domestic dog spread all over the world in the company of nomadic or migrating Homo sapiens (modern man). In this process and in respect of natural selection and ecological adaptation humankind evolved into a variety of geographical races. The same applied to its dogs. Back

4 . Davis & Valla

Davis, S. & Valla, F. (1978) Evidence for domestication of the dog 12.000 years ago in the Natufian of Israel. Nature 276, 5688:608-610. Back

5. CE

Common Era. Back

6. Boessneck

Boessneck, J. (1988) Die Tierwelt des Alten Ägypten. Verlag C.H. Beck, München. Back

7. Hendrickx

Hendrickx, S. (1992) Une scène de chasse dans le désert sur le vase prédynastique Bruxelles, Chronique d’Egypte, Bruxelles. Fasc.133: 5-27. Back

8. Quibell

Quibell, J.E. (1900) Hierakonpolis 1. London. Back

9. Méry

Méry, F. (1968) The Life History and Magic of the Dog. Madison Square Press, New York. Back

10. Siber

Siber, M. (1893) Die Afrikanische Hunde. Centralblatt für Jagd- und Hundeliebhaber. Back

11. Huffman

Huffman, T.N. (1997) The Iron Age. Unpubl. National Cultural History Museum. Back

12. Plug

Plug, I. (2000) Overview of Iron Age fauna from the Limpopo Valley. South African Archaeological Society. Goodwin Series No.8: 117-126. Back

13. Van Schalkwyk

Van Schalkwyk, L. (1994) Mamba confluence: a preliminary report on an Early Iron Age industrial centre in the lower Thukela Basin, Natal. Natal Mus. J. Humanities, Pietermaritzburg. Vol.6: 119-152. Back

14. Greyling

Greyling, L., Grobler, P., Van der Bank, H. and Kotze, A. (2004) Genetic characterisation of a domestic dog Canis familiaris breed endemic to South African rural areas. ActaTheriologica 49 (3): 369-382. Back

Complete List of References (in alphabetical order)

  • Boessneck, J. (1988) Die Tierwelt des Alten Ägypten. Verlag C.H. Beck, München.
  • Brentjes, R. (1984) Agriculture, domestication and the rock-art. In: Origin and early development of food producing cultures in north-eastern Africa.L.Krzyzaniak & M. Kobusiewicz (eds), Polska Academia NAUK: 381-389
  • Chaix, L. (1984) Troisième note sur la faune de Kerma (Soudan) Campagne 1983-1984. Extrait de Genava, n.s., tome XXXII: 30-34.
  • Chaix, L. & Olive Cl. (1986) La Faune du Mastaba V (2200 BC) à Balat. Extrait de Balat I. Le Mastaba de Medou-Nefer, fasc. I (FIFAO, t. XXXI/1: 201-213.
  • Chappel , C.A. (1968-69) A strandloper skeleton found a Cape St. Francis. Diastema 2(3): 37-39.
  • Davis, S. & Valla, F. (1978) Evidence for domestication of the dog 12.000 years ago in the Natufian of Israel. Nature 276, 5688:608-610.
  • Ehret, C. (1982) The first spread of food production to southern Africa . In: Ehret, C. & Posnansky, M.. (eds) The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History. Berkeley : University of California Press: 158-181.
  • Elphick, R. (1985) Khoikhoi and the Foundation of Whie South Africa . Johannesburg : Raven.
  • Gallant, J. (2002) The Story of the African Dog. University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Gautier, A. (1980) Contributions to the Archaeozoology of Egypt . In: Prehistory of the Eastern Sahara . (F. Wendorf & R. Schild eds.) Appendix 4, 317-344. New York , Acad. Press
  • Gautier, A. (1984) Quaternary mammals and archaeozoology of Egypt and the Sudan : a survey: 43-72.
  • Gautier, A. (1990) La Domestication - Et l’homme créa ses animaux. Editions Errance, Paris .
  • Gifford-González, D.P. &; Kimengich J. (1984) Faunal evidence for early stock-keeping in the Central Rift of Kenia: preliminary findings. In: L. Krzyzaniak & M. Kobusiewicz (eds) Origin and early development of food-producing cultures in north-eastern Africa. Polska Akademia NAUK, Poznan : 457-463.
  • Goodman, G. (1995 ) The Saluqi corsing hound of the East. Midbar, Inc.
  • Greyling, L., Grobler, P., Van der Bank, H. and Kotze, A. (2004) Genetic characterisation of a domestic dog Canis familiaris breed endemic to South African rural areas. ActaTheriologica 49 (3) : 369-382.
  • Hendrickx, S. (1992) Une scène de chasse dans le désert sur le vase prédynastique Bruxelles, Chronique d’Egypte, Bruxelles. Fasc.133: 5-27.
  • Hilzheimer, M. (1926) Natürliche Rassengeschichte der Haussäugetiere. Berlin/Leipzig. Huffman, T.N. & Herbert, R.K. (1996) New perspectives on Eastern Bantu. In: Sutton, J.E.G.(ed) The Growth of Farming Communities in Africa from the Equator Southwards. Azania special volume XXLX-XXX: 27-36.
  • Huffman, T.N. (1997) The Iron Age. Unpubl. National Cultural History Museum.
  • Keech Mc Intoch, S. (1995) Excavations at Jenné-Jeno, Hambarketolo, and Kaniana (Inland Niger Delta , Mali ), the 1981 Season. University of California Publications, Anthropology, Volume 20.
  • MacDonald, K.C. (1992) An Initial Report on the Fauna of Akumbu ( Mali ). Department of Archaeology Cambridge University.
  • MacDonald, K.C. & MacDonald, R.H. (2000) The origins and development of domesticated animals in arid West Africa. In:Blench, R. & MacDonald, K.C. (eds) (2000) The Origins and Development of African Livestock Archaeology, Genetics, Linguistics and Ethnography. UCL Press, Taylor and Francis Group: 127-162.
  • Méry, F. (1968) The Life History and Magic of the Dog. Madison Square Press , New York.
  • Osborn, D.J. & Osbornová, J. (1998) The Mammals of Ancient Egypt . Aris & Phillips Ltd, Warminster , England.
  • Paris, F. (1984) Les sépultures du Néolithique Final à l’Islam. Etudes Nigériennes N° 50, Institut de Recherches en Sciences Humaines, Niamey , 1984.
  • Plug, I. (1996) Domestic animals during the Early Iron Age in southern Africa . In: Aspects of African Archaeology. Pwiti, G. & Soper, R. (eds) University of Zimbabwe publications, Harare.
  • Plug, I. (2000) Overview of Iron Age fauna from the Limpopo Valley . South African Archaeological Society. Goodwin Series No.8: 117-126.
  • Quibell, J.E. (1900) Hierakonpolis 1. London.
  • Roubet, C. & Carter, P.L. (1984) La domestication dans le Magreb: état de la question. In: Origin and early development of food producing cultures in north-eastern Africa . L.Krzyzaniak & M. Kobusiewicz (eds). Polska Academia NAUK:.437-451.
  • Savolainen, P., Zhang Y., Luo J., Lundeberg J. and Leitner T. (2002) Genetic Evidence for an East Asian Origin of Domestic Dogs. Science 298:1610-1613.
  • Siber, M. (1893) Die Afrikanische Hunde. Centralblatt für Jagd- und Hundeliebhaber.
  • Tchernov, E. & Valla, F. (1997) Two New Dogs, and Other Natufian Dogs, from the Southern Levant . J. of Archaeological Science, 24: 65-95.
  • Theal, G.M. (1882-1911) History of South Africa, 11 vols., London.
  • Van Neer, W. (1990) Les faunes de vertébrés quaternaires en Afrique centrale. In: R.Lafranchi & D. Schwartz (eds), 1990, Paysages quaternaires de l’Afrique centrale atlantique. Ed. Orstom, Paris, 195-220.
  • Van Neer, W. & Bocoum, H. (1991) Etude archéozoologique de Tulel-Fobo, site protohistorique (IVe-Xe siècle) de la moyenne vallée du fleuve Sénégal (République du Sénégal. Archaeozoologia, Vol. IV/1: 93-114.
  • Van Neer, W. (2000) Domestic animals from archaeological sites in Central and West-Central Africa . In: Blench, R. & MacDonald, K. (eds) The origins and development of African livestock. London : UCL Press, Taylor and Francis Group: 163-190.
  • Van Schalkwyk, L. (1994) Mamba confluence: a preliminary report on an Early Iron Age industrial centre in the lower Thukela Basin , Natal . Natal Mus. J. Humanities, Pietermaritzburg. Vol.6: 119-152.