Cattle size variation during the late Iron Age of the Soutpansberg region, South Africa


en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 677-682

Published on 01 June 1998

This article is a part of the thematic issue Proceedings of the 7th ICAZ International Meeting, Constance, September 1994

The cattle bones /rom three late Iron Age sites in the Soutpansberg provide probable evidence for a chronological variation in cattle size. These animals appear to have become larger from the earlier to more recent sites. The sites examined are Tavhatshena, Dzata and Tshirululuni. To show the chronological variation in size, 809 measurements were taken on cattle skeletal elements from these sites. These were compared to measurements taken on the modern comparative collections housed in the Department of Archaeozoology at the Transvaal Museum. Specific elements and dimensions were then selected based on sample size. The results of the measurements suggest an increase in size of cattle over time. In al! instances, Tavhatshena cattle are relatively smaller, while Dzata cattle show wide variations in size, whereas Tshirululuni cattle elements are more robust. Several suggestions are presented for this change in cattle size.


Southern Africa, Soutpansberg, late Iron Age, cattle, size variation, environment

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