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Pigs of the "Far West": the biometry of Sus from archaeological sites in Portugal

Umberto ALBARELLA, Simon J. M. DAVIS, Cleia DETRY & Peter ROWLEY-CONWY

en Anthropozoologica 40 (2) - Pages 27-54

Published on 05 January 2006

The main purpose of this study is to outline the osteometric variation of Sus from the Neolithic to the present day in Portugal. We start by focussing upon two important Chalcolithic sites ? Zambujal and Leceia ? with their abundant collections of suid bones and teeth. Although it is difficult to clearly assign individual specimens as wild or domestic Sus, the general patterns of distribution of measurements suggest that at both sites pig husbandry was more important than wild boar hunting, with slightly more wild boar being represented at Zambujal. Moreover, it appears that in Portugal Chalcolithic wild boar was larger than in the Mesolithic. The scarcity of data from Neolithic sites makes it difficult to determine exactly when the pig was first domesticated in Portugal. Our Iron Age to Islamic data indicate stability of pig size in these periods but an abundance of larger forms of Sus in the Islamic period seems more likely to signal an increase of wild boar hunting rather than an improvement of the domestic form. Slight shape differences between wild boar and pig third mandibular molars tend to corroborate this hypothesis. The Portuguese wild boar is and was smaller than wild boar from regions east of the Iberian Peninsula.

Keywords :

Size, osteometry, pig, wild boar, Portugal, Sus.

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