Sunday, July 3, 2011
History of Horse Domestication in Africa
The horse period in Africa is usually 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.
It is usually taken for granted that the horse was introduced to African and Dravidian people by Asians or Indo-Europeans. But the evidence suggest that the horse was early domesticated by the Afro-Dravidian people long before the Indo-Europeans employed the horse.
It has usually been assumed that the horse was introduced into Africa by the Hyksos. But as indicated below the affinities between the terms for horse in Dravidian and African languages indicate that the horse was domesticated by Dravidians, and other Proto-Saharans before the Asian invasion of Egypt and spread of the Indo-European speaking people. Archaeological evidence indicate that the horse was known to the Nubians centuries before its common use in Egypt .
Saharan Africans used the donkey and later horses as beast of burden. The ass or donkey was domesticated in the Sahara at Maadi 3650 BC . A domesticated Equus was found at Hierakonpolis dating around the same period .
The horse was also found at other sites in the Sahara. Skeletons of horses dating to between to around 2000 BC have been found in the Sahara-Sahel zone
Most researchers believe that th horse was introduced to Africa/Egypt by the Hysos after 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 Sahel-Sahara zone.
In this region we find many horses depicted in the rock art. Some researchers have dated the rock art to after 1000 BC,based on the association of the camel with horses in the rock art.
Although the horse and camel are depicted in the rcok art of Nubia, the Sahel-Sahara and Upper Egypt they are considered to be related to the Graeco-Roman period . This date is far to late for the camel and horse to be used for domesticated purposes. During the Old Kingdom camel hair cord was used by the Egyptians . Moreover camel figurines are found in Gerzean (3500 BC) and archaic Egyptian context .
In the Sahelian-Saharan rock art the horse frequently depicted. The horse is often associated with being rode by the personages depicted in the rock art . In the same area we find engravings of men capturing horses probably to be rode or harnessed to a chariot . There are numerous pictures of blacks riding in chariots. Some researchers have dated this art to 600 BC. This date is probably far to late given the fact that the horse is attested too early in the archaeological history of Saharan Africa as discussed above.
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 rapart dating to 1675BC. This was only 25 years after the Hysos had conquered Egypt. This suggest that the Kushites had been riding horses for an extended period of time for them to be able to attack Buhen on horse back. This also supports the early habits of Africans riding horses as depicted in the rock art.
The Nubians and Upper Egyptians were great horsemen whereas the Lower Egyptians usually rode the chariot, the Nubian warriors of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty rode on horseback . The appearance of the horse laying on a Buhen rampart may indicate it was used by Kushite warriors attacking Buhen. No matter what the use of the horse was, the linguistic evidence makes it clear that the horse was part of Saharan culture before the advent of the Indo-Europeans.
There are many Dravidian and African words for horse, one of the most ancient Dravidian forms for horse may be Brahui hulli and Tamil ivuli. This ancient form of the word for horse appears in African languages with consonant /l/ or/d/, as the main consonant and the vowels /o/ or /u/. Below we compare the Malinke(M.)-Bambara (B.), Nubia (N), Wolof (W.) Hausa, Tamil (Ta), Malayam (Mal) Somali (Som.) Kanarese (Ka.) Telugu (Tel.) Kordofan Nubian (KN) languages. The African languages belong either to the Niger–Congo Family or the Cushitic Family of languages.
M. wolu, Bam. b’lu, wolo, N. unde Ta. Iyuli, Brahui hulli
Another ancient form of the word for horse was *par- / * far-. Below are other Dravidian-African terms for horse:
Mande wolu Bam. B’lu, wolo
Mande bara ‘grey horse’, Hausa baraba ‘swift horse’
Wolof fas Somali fara-ka Egyptian nefer Serere pis
Tamil , Mal. Pari Tamil payyeru, Fulani puucu Mande bari Ge’ez faras Galla or Oromo farda, ferda
Ka. Karte Tamil kartai Hausa doki
Tel. gadide Kanuri Nile koś Hausa godiya
The Dravidians and Niger-Congo speakers formerly lived in the highlands of the Sahara. Many of these people migrated into West Africa. In West Africa according to Daniel McCall the horse was in the Sahara during the Second Millennium BC This would explain the affinity between the Dravidian and African terms for horse outlined above.
The Saharan horse was small in size. These horses match perfectly the horses depicted with the Saharan chariot riders. These horses were stiil be used by the warriors of ancient Ghana as noted by the Arabic writer al-Bekri when he visited this area.
The fact that the chariots found in West Africa resemble those of Crete does not mean that the riders of these chariots had to have come from Crete. In fact Greek traditions make it clear that the ancient Cretans, called Minoans came from Africa
The Dravidian and African languages share similar names for the wheel. For example:
Galla makurakura Tulu gali, tagori
Swahili guru, dumu Mande koli, kori, muru-fe
Tamil kal, ari, urul , tikiri Ka. gali tiguri, tigari
It would appear that the proto-African-Dravidian term for wheel was *-ori / *-uri *go/uri and *ko/uri. The proto-South Dravidian term for wheel *tigu/ori . The linguistic evidence suggest that in the proto- language the speakers of proto-African-Dravidian used either the vowels o/u or a/i after the consonants. It is also evident that the l and r, were interchangeable in the construction of the term for wheel.
The horse disappeared from the Sahara as the area became increasingly drier. This forced the original West African domesticated horses to move southward where they are presently found.