European hunter-gatherers reared pigs even in 4600BC

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 11:58

Washington: A new research suggests that European hunter-gatherers acquired domesticated pigs from nearby farmers as early as 4600BC.

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, the scientists said.

The research 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 4000BC 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 said that previous evidence about the ownership of domestic animals by hunter-gatherers has so far been circumstantial.

"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 6000BC. 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," lead author, Dr Ben Krause-Kyora, from Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, said.

It is not yet known whether the hunter-gatherers received the pigs via trade or exchange, or by hunting and capturing escaped animals.

However, the domestic pigs had different coloured and spotted coats that would have seemed strange and exotic to the hunter-gatherers and may have attracted them to the pigs.

The study is published in Nature Communications.


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First Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 11:57

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