Pre-Neolithic wild boar management and introduction to Cyprus more than 11,400 years ago
The beginnings of pig domestication in Southwest Asia are controversial. In some areas, it seems to have occurred abruptly ca. 10,500 years ago, whereas in nearby locations, it appears to have resulted from a long period of management of wild boar starting at the end of the Late Pleistocene. Here, we present analyses of suid bones from Akrotiri Aetokremnos, Cyprus. This site has provided the earliest evidence for human occupation of the Mediterranean islands. Morphological analysis and direct radiocarbon dating of both degraded collagen and apatite of these bones reveal that small-sized suids were living on Cyprus 11,400-11,700 years ago. We demonstrate that these suids were introduced by humans and that, at this early date, their small size must result from island isolation. This sheds light on the early Holocene colonization of Cyprus and on pre-Neolithic Mediterranean seafaring. We further argue that wild boar were managed on the mainland before their introduction to Cyprus (i.e., before the beginning of the Neolithic and at least 1 millennium before the earliest known morphological modifications attributable to domestication). This adds weight to the theory that pig domestication involved a long period of wild boar management that started about the time of the Pleistocene/Holocene transition.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
- Pub Date:
- September 2009