How the first farmers came to Europe

Researchers are also presenting new findings on domestication of domestic swine

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An international team of scientists has managed to find out more about domestication of the domestic pig. In addition, they were able to make fundamental statements about the spread of the first farmers in Europe, using genetic studies on pigs' fossil bones and teeth.

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Researchers led by Greger Larson from the University of Oxford and Keith Dobney, Durham University, have studied more than two hundred samples of archaeological pig bones and teeth with the participation of scientists from the Institute of Prehistoric and Natural Archeology at the University of Basel.

The analyzed data make it clear that originally domesticated pigs from the Middle East were introduced to Europe. However, as the researchers report in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, " these were replaced after 500 years by animals derived from European wild boar. The genetic studies showed that the genetic lines coming from the Middle East were gradually being replaced by the native domestic pig lines.

Hike instead of know-how transfer

The new findings suggest that the spread of the early peasantry was not just a matter of know-how transfer, but that peasants were actually moving westward towards Europe with their pets, initiating Europe's first peasant cultures. At the same time, with the help of the analyzes, the domestication of a European wild animal species can be detected for the first time approximately 7, 000 years ago. display

The published study shows in an impressive way how genetic studies on archaeological animal bones (Ancient DNA) can be used to elaborate statements on cultural history.

(idw - University of Basel, 10.09.2007 - DLO)