Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient Pig DNA Study Sheds New Light On Colonization Of Europe By Early Farmers

Date:
September 4, 2007
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
The earliest domesticated pigs in Europe, which many archaeologists believed to be descended from European wild boar, were actually introduced from the Middle East by Stone Age farmers, new research suggests. While archaeologists already know that agriculture began about 12,000 years ago in the central and western parts of the Middle East, spreading rapidly across Europe between 6,800 -- 4000 BC, many outstanding questions remain about the mechanisms of just how it spread. This research sheds new and important light on the actual process of the establishment of farming in Europe.

Domestic pigs have been linked to the arrival of early farmers into Europe 11,000 years ago.
Credit: University of Adelaide

The earliest domesticated pigs in Europe, which many archaeologists believed to be descended from European wild boar, were actually introduced from the Middle East by Stone Age farmers, new research suggests.

The research by an international team led by archaeologists at Durham University, which is published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, analysed mitochondrial DNA from ancient and modern pig remains. Its findings also suggest that the migration of an expanding Middle Eastern population, who brought their 'farming package' of domesticated plants, animals and distinctive pottery styles with them, actually 'kickstarted' the local domestication of the European wild boar.

While archaeologists already know that agriculture began about 12,000 years ago in the central and western parts of the Middle East, spreading rapidly across Europe between 6,800 -- 4000BC, many outstanding questions remain about the mechanisms of just how it spread. This research sheds new and important light on the actual process of the establishment of farming in Europe.

Durham University's Dr Keith Dobney explained: "Many archaeologists believe that farming spread through the diffusion of ideas and cultural exchange, not with the direct migration of people. However, the discovery and analysis of ancient Middle Eastern pig remains across Europe reveals that although cultural exchange did happen, Europe was definitely colonised by Middle Eastern farmers.

"A combination of rising population and possible climate change in the 'fertile crescent', which put pressure on land and resources, made them look for new places to settle, plant their crops and breed their animals and so they rapidly spread west into Europe."

The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Smithsonian Institution also showed that within 500 years after the local domestication of the European wild boar, the new domestics completely replaced the Middle Eastern pigs that had arrived in Europe as part of the 'farming package'.

Dr Greger Larson, who performed the genetic analysis said: "The domestic pigs that were derived from the European wild boar must have been considered vastly superior to those originally from Middle East, though at this point we have no idea why. In fact, the European domestic pigs were so successful that over the next several thousand years they spread across the continent and even back into the Middle East where they overtook the indigenous domestic pigs. For whatever reason, European pigs were the must have farm animal."

The research is part of an ongoing research project based at Durham University which explores the role of animals in reconstructing early farming, ancient human migration and past trade and exchange networks around the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Durham University. "Ancient Pig DNA Study Sheds New Light On Colonization Of Europe By Early Farmers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070903204822.htm>.
Durham University. (2007, September 4). Ancient Pig DNA Study Sheds New Light On Colonization Of Europe By Early Farmers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070903204822.htm
Durham University. "Ancient Pig DNA Study Sheds New Light On Colonization Of Europe By Early Farmers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070903204822.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins