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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ancient cattle DNA hints at early Neolithic trade contacts between Europe and the Near East


A new paper at BMC Genetics on the origins of European cattle argues that European and Near Eastern farmers maintained trade links during the early Neolithic. This is very interesting if true, because it suggests that there was also regular movement of people between Europe and the Near East at this time.

Evidence for gene-flow between cattle populations from Southwestern Asia and Europe during the earlier phases of the European Neolithic points towards intercontinental trade connections between Neolithic farmers.

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According to our demographic modelling, migration between Anatolia/the Near East and Europe was greatly reduced, essentially to zero, in the period after 5,000 BCE.

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The pattern of decreasing diversity in the direction of the Neolithic expansion and the correlation of genetic and geographical distances is considerably weaker in modern-day cattle breeds than in the Neolithic. It is not clear yet to which extent human migrations from the East as postulated for the Bronze Age [61] influenced the already existing cattle stock in Europe.


Citation...

Scheu et al., The genetic prehistory of domesticated cattle from their origin to the spread across Europe, BMC Genetics (2015) 16:54 DOI 10.1186/s12863-015-0203-2

4 comments:

Unknown said...

This is very interesting.

Considering the importance of cattle amongst Old Indo-Iranian religions, is there any further information on varieties from South Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau or India to compare this to?

aniasi said...

Correction, I meant the Eastern Iranian Plateau, towards the Balochistan Highlands and Afghanistan.

terryt said...

"The pattern of decreasing diversity in the direction of the Neolithic expansion and the correlation of genetic and geographical distances is considerably weaker in modern-day cattle breeds than in the Neolithic".

My guess as to the reason for that is the local breeds were the most useful for the environment that had been selected in. I don't think the lesser movement of cattle necessarily indicates a lesser movement of people.

Chad Rohlfsen said...

I don't see the problem with 5000BCE. That is the timeframe of the final migration to the Balkans known before the Bronze Age (ancestors of Hamangia).