Thursday, July 17, 2008

Horse Rock Inscriptions and Writing in Saharan Africa








The horse period is dated between 2000 and 1200 BC. These dates correspond to the archaeological research.There were two horses common to Africa. A horse introduced to Africa by the Hysos and a native small size horse common to much of North and West Africa.Most researchers believe the horse was introduced to Africa/Egypt by 1700BC. This is an interesting date, and far to late for the introduction of the horse given the archaeological evidence for horses at Maadi and the Saharan zone.Saharan Africans used the donkey and later horses as beast of burden. A domesticated Equus was found at Hierakonpolis dating to around the 3600 BC at Maadi in the Sahara (Fekri A Hassan, The predynastic of Egypt, Journal of World Prehistory,2(2) (1988) .145; J. McArdle, Preliminary report on the predynastic fauna of the Hierkonpolis, Project Studies Association, Cairo. Publication No.1 (1982), p.116-120.)






The horse was also found at other sites in the Sahara. Skeletons of horses dating to between around 2000 BC, have been found ((A.Holl, Livestock husbandry, pastoralism and territoriality: The west African record, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 17(1998):143-165).In the Sahel-Saharan zone the first carts were driven by cattle and date between 4000 and 3000 BP between the Tichitt and Tagant region according to Joaquim Soler Subils. It is in the Tichitt region that we find many Libyco-Berber inscriptions, horses, mounted horses and of course the cattle driven carts see: J.S. Subils, Sub-Zone1: Mauritania-Western Sahara web page .






In many of these scenes the Mande are riding horses to hunt ostriches.Daniel McCall said the African horse is small in size and lived in the Sahara during the 2nd Millennium BC (D.P. McCall, The cultural map and time profile of the mande-speaking people. In D. Dalby (Ed.), Papers on the Manding (Bloomington,In:1976)pp.76-78). African calvary used these horses up until rise of the empire of Ghana according to the Arab historian al-Bekri.Sahelian-Saharan rock art depict horse being rode horseback by personages or people captuing horses.






At Buhen, one of the major fortresses of Nubia, which served as the headquarters of the Egyptian Viceroy of Kush a skeleton of a horse was found lying on the pavement of a Middle Kingdom rampart (W.B. Emery, A master-work of Egyptian military architecture 3900 years ago" Illustrated London News, 12 September, pp.250-251). This was only 25 years after the Hysos had conquered Egypt.The Kushites appear to have rode the horses on horseback instead of a chariot.






This suggest that the Kushites had been riding horses for an extended period of time for them to be able to attack Buhen on horseback. This supports supports the early habit of Africans riding horses as depicted in the rock art.This tradition was continued throughout the history of Kush. The Kushites and upper Egyptians were great horsemen, whereas the Lower Egyptians usually rode the chariot, the Kushite calvary of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty usually rode on horseback (W.A. Fairservis, The ancient kingdoms of the Nile (London,1962) p.129).

The Muzzolina work does not hold because he based his dating of the horse in Africa is based on dating the introduction of the horse to Africa to the Hysos, and that the Libyco-Berber writing was created by "Berbers" who introduced writing to West Africa and the Sahara. This is pure speculation. First we see the oldest examples of Libyco-Berber writing appearing in the Sahara, not North Africa.






Secondly, Saharan Africans preferred horseback riding instead of using chariotss. Therefore the association of writing to the expansion of Fezzanese from the Fezzan to Mauritania after 1000BC is not supported by the archaeological evidence for the horse in the Sahara.Maadi is not irelevent to this discussion. As we have discussed earlier the Proto-Mande speakers originally lived in the Sahara and Nubia before hey migrated into West Africa and the Fezzan.






As a result, the fact that 1) horses were found at Maadi and throughout the Sahara between 4000 and 5000 plus BP; and the Kushites were horseback riding is important in understanding the antiquity writing in Africa.Researchers have assumed that the Libyco Berber writing appear around 700 BC because it is associated with horses and horses they claim do not appear in rock art until 200-1500 BC.






The archaeological evidence of horese in the Sahara at this early time make it clear that horses were in Africa years before the Hysos arrived on the Continent, and that a horse native to Saharan Africa was alread in existence before this time as well.Secondly we have Kushites horsebackriding at Buhen in 4th millennium BP. This shows that while Asians used the horse for chariots Africans had long recognized that they could ride the horse. As a result, the presence of writing and Saharans horseback riding support a probably much earlier origin than the late horse period (e.g., 700 BC) assigned these inscriptions by some researchers.






Finally, we know that the bovidian period of Saharan Africa goes back to 6000 BC. The antiquity of cattle herding among the Mande speakers support the antiquity of the Oued Mertoutek inscription.In summary, horses existed in Africa before the Hysos entered Egypt. This horse was native to Africa and used by Mande calvary up until the rise of the Ghana empire.Saharan use of the horse for transportation can not be dated back to the introduction of the chariot (a cart pulled by a horse) because Saharans already had carts before the Hysos entered Egypt.






The rock art makes it clear that Africans early possessed carts pulled by cattle. Since they had carts pulled by cattle there was not need to use this animal to pull chariots since they already had their own technology.The rock art from the Sahara and North Africa make it clear that people here preferred horseback riding instead of using chariots for transportation.






This tradition of horeseback writing in Saharan Africa make it clear that the dating of the Libyco-Berber writing after 1000 BC is probably to late, and fail to accurately reflect the date of writing in Saharan Africa, a view supported by the Oued Mertoutek inscription.The early presence of horses and writing; and writing associated with the Oued Mertoutek inscription make it clear that the Mande speaking people had been familiar with writing long before they traveled to Mexico to found the Olmec civilization. It was this writing that the Olmec used to leave us inscrib objects throughout Olmecland.

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