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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Archaeology News: The Extinction of The Gazelles Caused By Ancient Hunts

APRIL 19, 2011--About 5,000 years ago in the Middle East, hunters drove a species of gazelle to the edge of extinction by funneling entire herds into carefully constructed stone corrals, where the animals were easy prey.

That’s the theory of Smithsonian Institution archaeologist Melinda Zeder and two of her colleagues, who report stunning evidence of such a mass kill in modern-day Syria.

“It must have been one heck of a barbeque,” Zeder said. “The scale of it is really quite staggering.”

The people living in the Middle East 5,000 years ago subsisted on goats and sheep while developing early architecture.

But every spring, herds of Persian gazelle thundered from breeding grounds in the south, near the Arabian peninsula, to the lush green steppe in the north, where the animals gave birth. In August, the herds roared back south.

Ancient hunts drove gazelle toward extinction @ Washington Post


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