Friday, 30 August 2013

European Hunter-Gatherers Owned Pigs as Early as 4600 BC

Aug. 27, 2013 — European hunter-gatherers acquired domesticated pigs from nearby farmers as early as 4600 BC, according to new evidence.

The international team of scientists, including researchers at Durham and Aberdeen universities, showed there was interaction between the hunter-gatherer and farming communities and a 'sharing' of animals and knowledge. The interaction between the two groups eventually led to the hunter-gatherers incorporating farming and breeding of livestock into their culture, say the scientists.

The research, published in Nature Communications today (27 August), gives new insights into the movements of pre-historic humans and the transition of technologies and knowledge.

The spread of plants and animals throughout Europe between 6000 and 4000 BC involved a complex interplay between indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and incoming Neolithic farmers but the scale of the interaction and the extent to which hunter-gatherers took ideas from their neighbours remains hotly debated.

The researchers say previous evidence about the ownership of domestic animals by hunter-gatherers has so far been circumstantial.

Lead author, Dr Ben Krause-Kyora, from Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, said: "Mesolithic hunter-gatherers definitely had dogs, but they did not practise agriculture and did not have pigs, sheep, goats, or cows, all of which were introduced to Europe with incoming farmers about 6000 BC. Having people who practised a very different survival strategy nearby must have been odd, and we know now that the hunter-gathers possessed some of the farmers' domesticated pigs."

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