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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 2 (2) 2004

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V. Linseele

Size and size change of the African aurochs during the Pleistocene and Holocene

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 2 (2), 2004, pages 165-185, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10026

Abstract
Several assumptions on the size of the African aurochs have been tested primarily using measurements assembled from the literature. During the Holocene, the African aurochs was indeed smaller than its European and Near Eastern cousins and it appears also to have been more gracile. The available African aurochs measurements of this period probably derive mostly from male animals, since many females may have been misidentified as domestic cattle. Therefore, the degree of sexual dimorphism remains unknown, although iconographic evidence suggests that it may have been marked. Male Holocene aurochs probably reached a height of about 160 cm at the withers and is not taller than Pleistocene female aurochs, which grew to between 140 and 160 cm. The height at the withers of the Pleistocene male individuals is estimated at between 150 and 170 cm. As in Europe, the aurochs in Africa underwent a size decline between the Pleistocene and the Holocene. The Pleistocene African aurochs moreover seems to have been more robust than its Holocene successor.

Résumé
Plusieurs hypothèses concernant la taille du bœuf sauvage en Afrique ont été testées en utilisant principalement des données compilées de la littérature. L'étude confirme que, durant l'Holocène, le bœuf sauvage africain était non seulement plus petit que ses cousins de l'Europe et du Proche-Orient mais probablement aussi plus gracile. La majorité des mesures de bœufs sauvages africains de cette période a probablement été prise sur des mâles, les femelles ont pu être confondues avec des bœufs domestiques. L'ampleur du dimorphisme sexuel reste donc inconnue, bien que des représentations iconographiques suggèrent qu'elle ait été assez nette. Le bœuf sauvage mâle de l'Holocène atteignait une hauteur au garrot d'environ 160 cm, une taille qui ne dépasse pas celle des femelles du Pléistocène, comprise entre 140 et 160 cm. D'après les estimations, la taille au garrot des mâles pléistocènes atteignait 150 à 170 cm. Comme en Europe, le bœuf sauvage en Afrique a donc subi une diminution de taille entre le Pléistocène et l'Holocène. Le bœuf sauvage du Pléistocène était en outre probablement plus robuste que son descendant holocène.




Keywords: archaeozoology, Bos primigenius, Quaternary


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