Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 43–77

Did Specialized Pastoralism Develop Differently in Africa than in the Near East? An Example from the West African Sahel

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10963-010-9033-3

Cite this article as:
Linseele, V. J World Prehist (2010) 23: 43. doi:10.1007/s10963-010-9033-3


Previous studies have highlighted the differences between Africa and the Near East with regard to the earliest phases of food production. However, later innovations and changes, which constantly reshaped food production, have received much less attention. In an attempt to fill this lacuna, at least partially, this paper focuses on the emergence of specialized pastoralism. Through a diachronic overview of the appearance of the characteristics shared by most present-day specialized pastoral groups in Africa and the Near East, it is clear that only at a late date could this mode of livelihood have taken its present shape. This should serve as a warning that projections of recent pastoral lifestyles back in time should be made with caution. It appears that both Africa and the Near East went through two stages of development: a first stage with general food economies, and a second phase of specialization. Archaeo(zoo)logical evidence from the Sahel in Nigeria and Burkina Faso illustrates these developments on a more local scale.


AfricaNear EastPastoralismSpecializationArchaeozoology

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Archaeological SciencesKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium