The Southern Levantine pig from domestication to Romanization: A biometrical approach

Max D. Price, Lee Perry-Gal, Hagar Reshef

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Zooarchaeological research has begun to expose the long and complex history of the pig in the southern Levant. In this paper, we present the first large-scale synthesis of biometrical data from pigs and wild boar in the southern Levant from sites dating from the Paleolithic through the Islamic period. We show broad morphological change over this multi-millennium period. We find the first evidence of morphological change associated with domestication in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (c. 7000-6400 cal. BC), at the site of Motza. This date is contemporaneous with the first evidence from kill-off patterns and relative abundance data indicating management of morphologically wild boar. Taken together, we argue for a process of local pig domestication. We also present tentative evidence for increased body size correlating with the genetic replacement in the Iron Age, when European-derived mitochondrial haplogroups replaced those of local origin. Finally, the data indicate variability in tooth size in the Roman period (c. 63 BCE – 330 CE), suggesting the exploitation of different populations of pigs. The data suggest sophisticated management techniques underwrote the upsurge in pig husbandry in the Levant in the Classical period.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105828
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Biometrics
  • Domestication
  • Levant
  • Pigs
  • Roman period
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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