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Camel Hybridization and the Role of Camelus Bactrianus in the Ancient Near East

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The evidence of camel hybridization—principally the crossing of Bactrian males and Arabian or dromedary females—is discussed against the backdrop of osteological evidence for the distribution of the Bactrian's wild progenitor, Camelus ferus. Historical and ethnographic evidence attesting to the widespread practice of hybridization, from Central Asia in the east to Anatolia in the west, is presented. The origins of camel hybridization are pushed back into the early 1st millennium B.C. and evidence for the presence of Bactrian camels in areas outside of its natural habitat is discussed in light of the advantages of hybridization. Cet article examine les preuves de l'hybridation des chameaux, plus particulièrement le croisement des mâles de Bactriane avec des femelles arabes ou dromadaires. Elles sont fondées sur l'évidence ostéologique de la répartition du géniteur sauvage des chameaux bactrians. Des témoignages historiques et ethnographiques attestant la pratique largement répandue de l'hybridation, de l'Asie centrale à l'est jusqu'à l'Anatolie à l'ouest, sont rappelés. Les origines de l'hybridation des chameaux se trouveraient donc repoussées au début du premier millénaire avant JC. Et les preuves de la présence des chameaux bactrians dans des régions situées hors de leur habitat naturel sont presentées ainsi à la lumière des avantages de l'hybridation.


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