The origins of pig domestication with particular reference to the Near East
The purpose of this research is to shed light on the question of the origin of pig domestication, at least as regards the Near East. To find out when and where the domestication of this animal first occurred, whether the origin of its domestication was a single event occurring in one part of the world and spreading from there to other regions, or whether it was an event which occurred several times in several places in the world, is clearly an interesting matter for debate. In order to be able to answer these questions in relation to the Near East, large numbers of modern samples of known age and sex are first examined and discriminating criteria elucidated for application to archaeological material. Then, pig remains from a large archaeological sequence are examined on the basis of these well tested criteria. Metrical studies based on a large modern wild pig sample from Hakel in East Germany show that some measurements are more variable than others and suggest which measurements to select to investigate the origin of pig domestication. Among the measurements tried in this current research, tooth width measurements are the most reliable dimensions since they show low sexual dimorphism, low age-related variation and low individual variability. The examination of modern populations from various parts of the world on the basis of the well tested criteria shows that there is a range of variation in size between the samples of wild pig (Sus scrofa). Reliable measurements from several archaeological sites of different periods and regions are compared with those of modern wild pig samples and pig remains from different archaeological periods from the same region. The result of the comparisons suggests that pigs were domesticated during the 7th millennium BC in different regions of the Old World; at least in the Near East, in eastern Europe and in the Far East. The present research draws special attention to the southeastern Taurus in Turkey as this area provides the earliest evidence for the domestication of this animal, possibly sometime between 7250-6750 BC at Çayönü and certainly around 6500-6250 BC at Gritille and Hayaz.