Eastern Mediterranean Mobility in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages: Inferences from Ancient DNA of Pigs and Cattle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Late Bronze of the Eastern Mediterranean (1550-1150 BCE) was a period of strong commercial relations and great prosperity, which ended in collapse and migration of groups to the Levant. Here we aim at studying the translocation of cattle and pigs during this period. We sequenced the first ancient mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA of cattle from Greece and Israel and compared the results with morphometric analysis of the metacarpal in cattle. We also increased previous ancient pig DNA datasets from Israel and extracted the first mitochondrial DNA for samples from Greece. We found that pigs underwent a complex translocation history, with links between Anatolia with southeastern Europe in the Bronze Age, and movement from southeastern Europe to the Levant in the Iron I (ca. 1150-950 BCE). Our genetic data did not indicate movement of cattle between the Aegean region and the southern Levant. We detected the earliest evidence for crossbreeding between taurine and zebu cattle in the Iron IIA (ca. 900 BCE). In light of archaeological and historical evidence on Egyptian imperial domination in the region in the Late Bronze Age, we suggest that Egypt attempted to expand dry farming in the region in a period of severe droughts.


  • Meirav Meiri
  • Philipp W. Stockhammer
  • Nimrod Marom
  • Guy Bar-Oz
  • Lidar Sapir-Hen
  • Peggy Morgenstern
  • Stella Macheridis
  • Baruch Rosen
  • Dorothée Huchon
  • Joseph Maran
  • Israel Finkelstein
External organisations
  • Tel-Aviv University
  • University of Haifa
  • Heidelberg University
  • Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich
  • Israel Antiquities Authority
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology
Original languageEnglish
Article number00701
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch