November 23, 2012

The comings and goings of Near Eastern and European domestic pigs (Ottoni et al. 2012)

This is an excellent paper whose findings re: pig domestication seem to parallel many of my own observations regarding the flow of human populations. It is open access, so you can read it for yourselves, but the following figure illustrates the situation admirably:

The left-right arrangement of the columns corresponds to a west-east longitude across West Asia. It can be easily seen that some of the early domestic samples (yellow, bottom row) are concentrated in the west (Y1 haplotype), while others (blue, Arm1T) in the east.

Neolithic European samples possessed the Y1 haplotype, but lacked the Arm1T one. So, the authors conclude that:
The ancient Anatolian data presented here reveal that both wild and possibly domestic Neolithic pigs (identified using traditional metrics) possessed Y1 haplotypes ... The presence of these lineages corroborates the supposition that the earliest domestic pigs in Europe originated from populations originally domesticated in the Near East, conclusively linking the Neolithization of Europe with Neolithic cultures of western Anatolia (Larson et al. 2007a; Haak et al. 2010).
I have repeatedly highlighted the "puzzle" of the early European Neolithic: the signature Y-haplogroup G2a was unaccompanied by other common Near Eastern lineages, and the modal "West Asian" ancestral component in present-day West Asian populations seems to have been absent in early Neolithic samples, which were dominated by a "Sardinian-like" population. I have argued that this meant that the European Neolithic was drawn from a limited founder source that was more "Mediterranean/Southern" autosomally than "West Asian", at least in terms of the components identified by the Dodecad Project.

In Europe itself, the early Near Eastern domestic pigs were replaced by European ones:

Ancient DNA extracted from early Neolithic domestic pigs in Europe resolved this paradox by demonstrating that early domestic pigs in the Balkans and central Europe shared haplotypes with modern Near Eastern wild boar (Larson et al. 2007a). The absence of Near Eastern haplotypes in pre-Neolithic European wild boar suggested that early domestic pigs in Europe must have been introduced from the Near East by the mid 6th millennium BC before spreading to the Paris basin by the early 4th millennium BC (Larson et al. 2007a). 
By 3,900 BC, however, virtually all domestic pigs in Europe possessed haplotypes  from an indigenous European domestication process (Larson et al. 2007a) only found in European wild boar. This genetic turnover may have resulted from the accumulated introgression of local female wild boar into imported domestic stocks, or from an indigenous European domestication process (Larson et al. 2007a).
We have seen that early Neolithic domestic pigs came from Western Anatolia, but apparently these did not last, but were replaced in Europe by pigs carrying mtDNA of European wild boar. An additional possibility is that the European wild boar were better adapted to local conditions in Europe, so the stock of European farmers gradually became "local" due to artificial/natural selection favoring the local "European" type. It might also be that in accordance with Bergmann's rule, European-descended pigs were simply bigger, and thus more economically productive.

In any case, the interesting thing is that pigs carrying the "European" haplotype went the other way, crossing from Europe to Asia. The beginning of this process seems to have occurred in the Middle Bronze Age:

The temporal and geographic distribution of genetic haplotypes presented in our study demonstrates that the first AMS dated pig with European ancestry (haplotype A) appeared almost 1,000 years earlier than the Armenian samples in a Late Bronze Age context (~1,600-1,440 BC) at Lidar Höyük (fig. 1). An even earlier Middle Bronze Age specimen from the same site also possessed a European signature, but a direct
AMS date for this specimen could not be obtained.
I have written how increased mobility and long-range networks associated with the new metallurgical class facilitated commerce during the Bronze Age. The authors suggest the possibility of Minoan-Mycenaean/Hittite involvement during the Bronze Age, which are certainly plausible conduits for European pigs to have crossed the Aegean at this time. But, as you can see from the figure, the "European" pigs are still outliers during the Middle and Bronze Ages, but become common in the Iron Age sample from Lidar Höyük, and eventually replacing local types throughout Anatolia and Armenia, but, apparently, not Iran:
The frequency of pigs with European ancestry increased rapidly from the 12th century BC, and by the 5th century AD domestic pigs exhibiting a Near Eastern genetic signature had all but disappeared across Anatolia and the southern Caucasus. Though we did not detect European signatures in the ancient Iranian samples (fig. 1), the eastward spread of European lineages may have continued into Iran later than the Iron Age since European lineages have been found in wild caught modern Iranian samples (Larson et al. 2007a).
Of course a 12th century BC increase in European domestic pigs is entirely consistent -chronologically- with the Phrygian/Armenian settlement in Anatolia, and this association is further reinforced by the lack of European signatures in pigs from Iran where Phrygo-Armenians did not settle. The increase in European pigs could later be mediated by the Greek colonization, and the increase in trade during antiquity, just as trade would later introduce East Asian pig DNA into Europe.

The beautiful temporal transect presented in the Figure may also prove useful for students of ancient human DNA. I'd love to see how humans living close to sites #14-16, dominated by Arm1T haplotypes throughout history might differ from those of Neolithic West Anatolia, and whether the "mixed" Iron Age sample from Lidar Höyük shows evidence of the arrival of European-like human populations to accompany the European pigs.

Mol Biol Evol (2012) doi: 10.1093/molbev/mss261

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

Claudio Ottoni et al.

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.



tew said...

One thing I've always wondered about: Northwest and Northeast Caucasian languages have words for "pig" that are clearly related to the Southeast Asian Wanderwort for "pig, boar", something like *~rekw, *~likw. Forms like these are found everywhere from Andamanese to Sino-Tibetan to Austronesian to Austro-Asiatic all the way to Abkhaz ! On the other hand, there is no obvious intermediate source say, in Central Asia...

Onur Dincer said...

One thing I've always wondered about: Northwest and Northeast Caucasian languages have words for "pig" that are clearly related to the Southeast Asian Wanderwort for "pig, boar", something like *~rekw, *~likw. Forms like these are found everywhere from Andamanese to Sino-Tibetan to Austronesian to Austro-Asiatic all the way to Abkhaz ! On the other hand, there is no obvious intermediate source say, in Central Asia...

There is no language family in Central Asia surviving from the Neolithic times, maybe save for Burushaski (don't know the words for "pig" and "boar" in Burushaski).