Thursday, 7 November 2013

Genetic Study Demonstrates Israel's Wild Boars Originated in Europe

Nov. 4, 2013 — Wild boars look more or less the same in Israel as they do anywhere else: stalky and hairy with big heads, long snouts, and beady eyes. So scientists had no reason to suspect Israeli wild boars were any different than their brothers and sisters roaming the Middle East, from Egypt to Iran.

Now, in a new study Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Dr. Meirav Meiri of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near East Civilizations together with Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen from the same department and Dr. Dorothee Huchon of TAU's Department of Zoology have found that, unlike the Near Eastern wild boars in surrounding countries, Israel's wild boars originated in Europe. After a genetic and archaeological analysis, the researchers suggest the wild boars living in Israel are descendants of domesticated pigs brought to Israel starting almost 3,000 years ago by the Philistines and other seafaring raiders.

The findings were published this week in Scientific Reports. Prof. Steve Weiner and Dr. Eilsabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Prof. Guy Bar-Oz of Haifa University, Dr. Greger Larsen of Durham University, Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University and Dr. Liora Kolska Horwitz of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem contributed to the study.

Pillagers and pig lovers

"Our DNA analysis proves that the wild boars living in Israel today are the descendants of European pigs brought here starting in the Iron Age, around 900 BCE," says Prof. Finkelstein. "Given the concentration of pig bones found at Philistine archaeological sites, the European pigs likely came over in the Philistines' boats."

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