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Early Pig Management in the Zagros Flanks: Reanalysis of the Fauna from Neolithic Jarmo, Northern Iraq



In this paper, we present a reanalysis of pig (Sus scrofa) remains from the Neolithic site of Qalat Jarmo, originally excavated in the 1940s and 1950s. Employing modern zooarchaeological techniques, not available during the initial analyses, we explore the nature of swine exploitation strategies and demonstrate that pigs were most likely managed by the early 7th millennium (Pottery Neolithic) and perhaps earlier. Comparing biometric data with those from other sites in the region, we show that the Jarmo pigs exhibit evidence for size decrease associated with intensive management, but had not yet achieved the degree of dental or post-cranial size reduction seen in later Neolithic domestic populations. Although samples from the earliest (Pre-Pottery) occupation of the site are small, there is some evidence to suggest that domestic pigs were present at Jarmo as early as the late 8th millennium cal. bc. In either case, Jarmo likely represents the earliest appearance of pig husbandry along the Zagros flanks, and we discuss the mechanisms by which Neolithic technologies, including domesticated animals, spread to new regions. This project emphasises the value of curated faunal assemblages in shedding new light on the spread of Neolithic economies. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.