AUROCHS MAP – 2009
ORIGINAL PAINTING HAND-PAINTED IN SEPIA CALLIGRAPHY INK ON PAPER BY EMMA J V HOGG
PRINT DIMENSIONS | UNFRAMED –
A4 – 21 X 29.7 CM / 8 X 12″
A3 – 29.7 x 42 CM / 12 x 16.5″
A2 – 42 x 59.4 CM / 16.5 x 23.4″
‘Aurochs Map’ details the distribution of the extinct aurochs species, the supposed ancestor to all modern cattle breeds, human relationships with aurochs and the demise of the last aurochs herd in poland in 1627. Three maps of Europe are overlaid at different scales creating a singular map of their history.
Text in painting reads:
Name: Roman – Urus, German – Auerochs, English – Aurochs
Scientific classification: Kingdom – Animalia, Phylum – Chordata, Class – Mammalia, Order – Artiodactyla, Family – Bovidae, Subfamily – Bovinae, Genus – Bos, Species – B.Primigenius.
Size: From archaeological finds bulls were around 190cm at the withers, modern breeds are approximately 40cm shorter.
Conservation status: Extinct. Eradicated in favour of domesticated cattle.
1. Aurochs evolved approximately 2 000 000ya during the Pliocene on the Indian sub-continent, the Punjab.
2. The aurochs is the supposed ancestor of all modern cattle breeds.
3. During the Pleistocene, 2mya – 11 000ya, there was a slow spread of the aurochs, receding with each successive ice age.
4. By the end of the Great Ice Age, 250 000ya, the aurochs had spread permanently to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe in the west and China in the east. Eurasian subspecies – Bos Primigenius Primigenius. African subspecies – Bos Primigenius Mauretanicus. Indian subspecies – Bos Primigenius Namadicus, ( it is believed that the two other subspecies evolved from this subspecies).
5. Aurochs could not swim far, therefore Japan, Crete, Cyprus and Malta were never reached by the aurochs.
6. The Sicilian land-bridge from Italy allowed a Sicilian aurochs population to form. Once isolated they dwarfed in size by 20% from their mainland relatives.
Coa Valley, North Eastern Portugal, open air engravings from the Paleolithic, 22 000ya, depicts aurochs amoung 1000’s of engraved drawings of animals over 17km of the course of the river Coa.
Lascaux caves in South-west France, paintings depicting aurochs are dated to 13 000BC.
The Fertile Crescent of the Near East around 6 000BC, a major site of the first domestication of the aurochs.
Assyrian King Sennacherib, 704 – 681BC, Mesopotamian images depict his hunting of aurochs. The youngest account of aurochs in that region.
Ishtar Gate, Babylon, built in 575BC features aurochs.
Julius Caesar, born and died in Rome, dictator of Roman republic from 49BC – 44BC. Wrote on the Gallic wars in the 40’s or 50’s BC. Chapter 6.28 reads…”those animals which are called Uri. These are a little below the elephant in size, and of the appearance, colour and shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary. They spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied…”
An extensive Heck breeding programme began in the 1920’s by Heck brothers Heinz and Lutz in Germany in an attempt to breed modern cattle back to the presumed ancestral form of the aurochs.
1. By the 13th century AD the aurochs range was restricted to Poland, Lithuania, Moldavia, Transylvania and East Prussia.
2. In Poland at this time hunting of all large animals on any land was restricted to nobles, eventually only the Royal Household.
3. As the aurochs population declined hunting ceased and the Royal Court required gamekeepers to provide open fields for aurochs to graze in. A decree was made that poaching aurochs was punishable by death.
4. In 1476 the last two aurochs populations became the possession of the Royal Family.
5. In 1564 gamekeepers knew of 38 aurochs, according to Royal inspection reports, from the forests of Wiskitki and Jaktorow in Poland = 22 cows, 3 young, 5 calves, 8 bulls. 1566 survey = 24 aurochs. From 1602 there were only aurochs in Jaktorow forest = 3 bulls, 1 cow. 1620 = last bull dies, 1 cow left.
6. The 1630 inspection report reads…”In the previous report, 1620, is written that only one cow was left, the residents of this village in Jaktorow said that she died three years ago”, and so the last recorded auroch was a female that died in the Jaktorow forest, Masovia, Poland in 1627, (they may have survived longer in Asia, unsure due to scarce information).
7. The skull of the last auroch was taken by the Swedish army during the Swedish invasion of Poland, 1655 – 1660, and is now in the Livrustkammaren/the Swedish Royal Armoury, in the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
Written by Emma J V Hogg.