Abrupt climatic changes in marginal areas, such as the central Sahara in the Early and Middle Holocene were among the major environmental constraints on prehistoric human groups. Social responses to these events were different, with different paths and outcomes. The spread of a 'cattle cult'-animals buried in 'megalithic' stone structures-in the Sahara at the end of the 7th millennium BP (ca. 6400-6000 yr BP) is seen here as a collective ritual that emerged, within Saharan pastoral societies, to face uncertain climate and socially relate to 'superhuman' entities. The type of rite-slaughtering of precious domestic livestock-reveals a shared identity in coping with catastrophic episodes-i.e., abrupt droughts. The spread of this 'cult' over large parts of present day Sahara is interpreted as the result of rapid movements of nomadic groups in search of pasture and water. Dramatic climatic deterioration at 5000 yr BP is one of the causes of a further major social shift in the rituals archaeologically detected by stone structures: these monuments become human burials, underlining a shift from social to individual identity, as mirrored in the funerary traditions of later pastoral groups. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
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|Titolo:||Building monuments, creating identity: Cattle cult as a social response to rapid environmental changes in the Holocene Sahara|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2006|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|