Pig domestication and human-mediated dispersal in western Eurasia revealed through ancient DNA and geometric morphometrics

Claudio Ottoni, Linus Girdland Flink, Allowen Evin, Christina Geörg, Bea De Cupere, Wim Van Neer, Laszlo Bartosiewicz, Anna Linderholm, Ross Barnett, Joris Peters, Ronny Decorte, Marc Waelkens, Nancy Vanderheyden, François-Xavier Ricaut, Canan Çakırlar, Özlem Çevic, A. Rus Hoelzel, Marjan Mashkour, Azadeh Fatemeh Mohaseb Karimlu, Shiva Skeikhi SenoJulie Daujat, Fiona Brock, Ron Pinhasi, Hitomi Hongo, Miguel Perez-Enisco, Morten Rasmussen, Laurent Frantz, Hendrik-Jan Megens, Richard Crooijmans, Martien Groenen, Benjamin Arbuckle, Nobert Benecke, Una Strand-Vidarsdottir, Joachim Burger, Thomas Cucchi, Keith Dobney, Greger Larson

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Zooarcheological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated in Southwest Asia~8,500 BC. They then spread across the Middle and Near East and westward into Europe alongside early agriculturalists. European pigs were either domesticated independently or appeared so as a result of admixture between introduced pigs and European wild boar. These pigs not only replaced those with Near Eastern signatures in Europe, they subsequently also replaced indigenous domestic pigs in the Near East. The specific details of these processes, however, remain unknown. To address questions related to early pig domestication, dispersal, and turnover in the Near East, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA and dental geometric morphometric variation in 393 ancient pig specimens representing 48 archeological sites (from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Medieval period) from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran,
Syria and Turkey. Our results firstly reveal the genetic signature of early domestic pigs in Eastern Turkey. We also demonstrate that these early pigs differed genetically from those in western Anatolia that were introduced to Europe during the Neolithic expansion. In addition, we present a significantly more refined chronology for the introduction of European domestic pigs into Asia Minor that took place during the Bronze Age, nearly 1,000 years earlier than previously detected. By the 5th century AD, European signatures completely replaced the endemic lineages possibly coinciding with the demographic and societal changes during the Anatolian Bronze and Iron Ages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-832
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number4
Early online date22 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • pig domestication
  • wild boar
  • Neolithic
  • phylogeography


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