Journal of Arid Environments vol:74 issue:7 pages:818-828
The Tree Shelter and Sodmein Cave are two sites in the Egyptian Eastern Desert with stratified archaeological deposits. In Middle Holocene contexts of both sites, dated to the 7th millennium BP and later, animal dung has been found, in the shape of small concentrations of pellets at the Tree Shelter and of large accumulations at Sodmein Cave. The combination of several lines of evidence, including the size and weight of the excrements, the dimensions of the dung layers from Sodmein and the presence of hearths and artefacts inside them, and the species represented in the bone assemblages from Sodmein and the Tree Shelter, indicates that the dung was mostly deposited by herds of domestic ovicaprines. Sodmein Cave and the Tree Shelter belong to the oldest sites of the African continent where evidence for domestic small livestock has been attested. The importance and size of the herds seems to have been greater than would be suspected from the scant bone remains that were found. The visits to the caves were probably short but repeated over a long time period. Macrobotanical remains recovered from the dung suggest that these visits took place after seasonal winter rains.