Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dispersal of pigs from the Near East

BBC News

This is of no direct relevance to Egypt, but for those interested in the dispersal of agricultural components from the Near East to Europe and Egypt, this may be of some interest.

The first domesticated pigs in Europe were introduced from the Middle East by Stone Age farmers, a new study shows. The international research project examined DNA in the jawbones or teeth of modern and 7,000-year-old pigs. The genetic investigation provides fresh insight into the immigration of ancient peoples and ideas.

The scientists tell the journal PNAS that the incoming farmers brought more than just ideas - they brought examples of domesticated livestock. Agriculture is thought to have begun about 12,000 years ago, in the central and western parts of the Middle East, known as the Near East to archaeologists. Between 6,800-4,000 BC, farming methods spread across Europe, but the question of how these methods spread has not been fully established.

The two competing theories are that farming spread through cultural exchange, possibly during trading or that people migrated to Europe bringing their expertise with them. A previous study, in 2005, analysed modern pig DNA and showed that all modern pigs are descended from European wild boar. This led researchers to conclude that early Europeans domesticated pigs independently of other farming methods. This new study, however, has discovered that the first domesticated pigs in Europe did have Near Eastern ancestry, indicating that farmers migrated to Europe, bringing their "package" of livestock and farming methods with them.

See the above for more.

Also covered on
Los Angeles Times

No comments: