Size changes in wild and domestic pig populations between 10,000 and 800 cal. BC in the Iberian Peninsula: Evaluation of natural versus social impacts in animal populations during the first domestication stages

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Abstract

© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. In the early-Holocene, animal domestication processes entailed important changes to the subsistence strategies of Neolithic populations. Among the first domestic species, pigs played a key role as they soon came to be one of the main sources of meat. Several methodological approaches have been followed in archaeology to differentiate between wild and domestic forms in the faunal remains found at early Neolithic sites. Among these, biometry is essential. The biometric analysis applied to a significant sample of Sus domesticus and Sus scrofa remains from 53 sites in the Iberian Peninsula dated between 10,000 and 800 cal. BC reveals differential dynamics between the wild and domestic forms resulting from changes in the climate during that time and the increasingly systematic selective pressure of husbandry. Whereas the wild animals increased in size, the inverse tendency is documented in the domestic population, which gradually decreased in size after the early Neolithic. The point of greatest divergence is seen in the Bronze Age. Significant differences are also documented in different geographic areas, which corroborates the influence of climate on the physical characteristics of wild populations. The range of variability in each population also differs chronologically as it is relatively greater in the Neolithic, which may be connected with the existence of different ways of adopting and breeding domestic pig among the first Neolithic communities, some of which may have involved continuous cross-breeding between the two populations. The results are an initial point of reference for the classification of archaeological remains of prehistoric pig in the Iberian Peninsula, a key area for the study of the dynamics of neolithisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1526-1539
JournalHolocene
Volume27
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Sus domesticus
  • Sus scrofa
  • early- and middle-Holocene
  • osteometry
  • pig domestication
  • pig husbandry

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