Near Eastern wild boars possess a characteristic DNA signature. Unexpectedly, wild boars from Israel have the DNA sequences of European wild boars and domestic pigs. To understand how this anomaly evolved, we sequenced DNA from ancient and modern pigs from Israel. Pigs from Late Bronze Age (until ca. 1150 BCE) in Israel shared haplotypes of modern and ancient Near Eastern pigs. European haplotypes became dominant only during the Iron Age (ca. 900 BCE). This raises the possibility that European pigs were brought to the region by the Sea Peoples who migrated to the Levant at that time. Then, a complete genetic turnover took place, most likely because of repeated admixture between local and introduced European domestic pigs that went feral. Severe population bottlenecks likely accelerated this process. Introductions by humans have strongly affected the phylogeography of wild animals, and interpretations of phylogeography based on modern DNA alone should be taken with caution.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the following archaeologists, zooarchaeologists and museum curators for kindly providing us samples: Noha Agha, Amani Abu Hamid, Doron Ben-Ami, Daniel Berkowic, Fanny Bocquentin, Eric H. Cline, Ehud Galili, Ayelet Gilboa, Zvi Greenhut, Gila Kahila Bar Gal, Seymour Gitin, Amir Golani, Hamudi Khalaily, Thomas E. Levy, Nimrod Marom, Daniel Master, Assaf Nativ, Amihai Mazar, Ilan Sharon, Danny Syon, Assaf Yasur-Landau, Edna Stern, Karin Tamar, David Ussishkin, Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah. We also want to thank to the following museums for providing us samples: the Steinhardt National Collection of Natural History, Zoological Museum at Tel Aviv University (Israel), and the Wildlife Tissue Collection at the Laboratory of Molecular Evolution, National Natural History Collections of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). This study was funded by the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) ERC grant agreement no. 229418. Partial funding (relating to the excavation of the samples from Tell es-Safi/Gath and the research conducted by L.K.H) was provided by a grant (#32/11) from the F.I.R.S.T. (Bikura) track of the Israel Science Foundation to A.M.M. Ehud Weiss, and L.K.H. A small funding was also provided by the Jacob M. Alkow Chair in the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
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