Unravelling the complexity of domestication: a case study using morphometrics and ancient DNA analyses of archaeological pigs from Romania

Allowen Evin, Linus Girdland Flink, Adrian Bălăşescu, Dragomir Popovici, Radian Andreescu, Douglas Bailey, Pavel Mirea, Cătălin Lazăr, Adina Boroneanţ, Clive Bonsall, Una Strand Vidarsdottir, Stéphanie Brehard, Anne Tresset, Thomas Cucchi, Greger Larson, Keith Dobney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Current evidence suggests that pigs were first domesticated in Eastern Anatolia during the ninth millennium cal BC before dispersing into Europe with Early Neolithic farmers from the beginning of the seventh millennium. Recent ancient DNA (aDNA) research also indicates the incorporation of European wild boar into domestic stock during the Neolithization process. In order to establish the timing of the arrival of domestic pigs into Europe, and to test hypotheses regarding the role European wild boar played in the domestication process, we combined a geometric morphometric analysis (allowing us to combine tooth size and shape) of 449 Romanian ancient teeth with aDNA analysis. Our results firstly substantiate claims that the first domestic pigs in Romania possessed the same mtDNA signatures found in Neolithic pigs in west and central Anatolia. Second, we identified a significant proportion of individuals with large molars whose tooth shape matched that of archaeological (likely) domestic pigs. These large 'domestic shape' specimens were present from the outset of the Romanian Neolithic (6100-5500 cal BC) through to later prehistory, suggesting a long history of admixture between introduced domestic pigs and local wild boar. Finally, we confirmed a turnover in mitochondrial lineages found in domestic pigs, possibly coincident with human migration into Anatolia and the Levant that occurred in later prehistory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130616
Number of pages7
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1660
Early online date8 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding statement. This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NE/F003382/1) and the Leverhulme Trust (F/00 128/AX)

Acknowledgements. Archaeozoological analyses conducted by A. Ba˘la˘s¸escu were supported by three grants from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS UEFISCDI (PN-II-RU-TE-20113-0146, PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0982 and PN-IIID-PCE-2011-3-1015). We thank the archeologists Ca˘ta˘lin Bem, Alexandru Dragoman, Valentin Dumitras¸cu, Laura Dietrich, Raluca Koga˘lniceanu, Cristian Micu, Sta˘nica Pandrea, Valentin Parnic,
George Trohani, Valentina Voinea for the material they generously provided. We thank the many institutions and individuals that provided sample material and access to collections, especially the curators of the Museum fu¨r Naturkunde, Berlin; Muse´um National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris; Muse´um d’Histoire Naturelle, Gene`ve; Museum fu¨r Haustierkunde, Halle; National Museum of Natural History, Washington; The Field Museum, Chicago and The American
Museum of Natural History, New York; The Naturhistorisches Museum, Bern


  • domestication
  • neolithization
  • morphometrics
  • ancient DNA
  • Sus scrofa


Dive into the research topics of 'Unravelling the complexity of domestication: a case study using morphometrics and ancient DNA analyses of archaeological pigs from Romania'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this