The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


The Bronocice Sheep Project: The use of ancient mitochondrial DNA analysis of sheep to infer human social interactions during the middle Neolithic in southeastern Poland

MICHEL SHAMOON POUR1, JENNIFER G.L. KENNEDY1, MARIE-LORRAINE PIPES2, SARUNAS MILISAUSKAS2, JANUSZ KRUK3 and D. A. MERRIWETHER1.

1Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, SUNY, 2Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo, SUNY, 3Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii, Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Kraków, Poland

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The archaeological site of Bronocice in southeastern Poland provides archaeological evidence of a large village that was a regional center involved in long distance trade. Two smaller sites involved in the study, Zawarza and Niedzwiedz, located within a day’s walk from Bronocice, potentially existed within the larger site’s interaction sphere. This study uses mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis to determine the genetic relatedness of sheep within and between each site inferring how humans manipulated sheep movement and breeding practices. These communities directly impacted the genetic composition of sheep both to maintain the health of their herds and as a means of human social exchange. The sheep samples in the study focus on two defined occupational phases between 3650 BC-3100 BC. This would indicate that there is a potential change in the genetic composition between different temporal phases further explaining changes in human interactions over time. A total of 40 samples were extracted, ten samples from each of the sites and each phase from Bronocice. Using four primer sets spanning the targeted mtDNA region of positions 15496 through 00015 chosen for comparison with existing published sheep sequences. Successful sequencing results were obtained from each site and time period providing sufficient evidence of a human influence over the movement and breeding of sheep.

This project was generously supported by the National Science Foundation through a Doctoral Improvement Grant under grant number 1037863.

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