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Sep 3, 2007

Pig DNA Reveals Animals Migrated With Farmers From Middle East to Europe Between 6,800 - 4,000 BC

European wild boar
Photo: Alladle.com
On 3 September 2007 ScienceDaily reported that a team of international scientists at Durham University had compared the DNA from Europe's earliest known pigs and modern pigs and discovered that European pigs had ancestors that migrated with Stone Age farmers from the Middle East.  These findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Agriculture began in the central and western parts of the Middle East approximately 12,000 years ago.  It arrived in Europe between 6,800 and 4,000 BC.  Academics have been debating how farming spread to Europe - was it a concept that spread or was it a way of life that migrating people brought with them?  Theis pig DNA research supports the theory that farming was spread by people who physically migrated to Europe.  According to article co-author Keith Dobney, "although cultural exchange did happen, Europe was definitely colonized by Middle Eastern farmers. ... A combination of rising population and possible climate change in the 'fertile crescent', 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 study also revealed that once migrating farmers from the Middle East introduced pigs from the Middle East, attempts were made to domesticate the European wild boar.  Once this was successful, within 500 years, domesticated European wild boars replaced the pigs brought from the Middle East.

Funding for this research project was provided by the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Smithsonian Institution.  It is part of an ongoing study at the Durham University that is exploring the "role of animals in reconstructing early farming, ancient human migration and past trade and exchange networks around the world."

For more see: "Ancient Pig DNA Study Sheds New Light On Colonization Of Europe By Early Farmers," ScienceDaily, 3 September 2007.

About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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