Archaeogenetics and Palaeogenetics of cattle domestication in North-West Europe

  • Rita Monteiro

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Since the early times of their domestication, around 10,500 ybp in the Fertile Crescent, taurine cattle have played an essential role within human societies. Providers of meat, milk, manure and dragging power, they soon became a major economical, social and cultural resource across the world. Dispersed through Europe during the Neolithic, domestic cattle arrived in Southern Britain around 6,100 ybp, and 200 years later were established across the islands, including in
Scotland and Ireland.

This PhD thesis reports the first genome-wide analysis of 23Neolithic and BronzeAge individuals from nine archaeological sites across North-west Europe. The use of ancient DNA, retrieved from archaeological remains, together with the recent high-throughput DNA sequencing technology, has been widely implemented due to its great potential in allowing a direct window into the past.

The main aims of this thesis were to perform genetic characterisation of the 23 ancient cattle individuals in order to infer about past migratory and introgression events, as well as to place them in the context of modern diversity. Thiswas achieved through the use of both nuclear and mitochondrial genome analysis.

No major geographical structure was observed across the investigated populations, which clustered among the diversity seen in modern-day North-western cattle breeds. However, some differentiation between Neolithic and Bronze Age cattle was detectable. Regarding proportions of auroch derived alleles, no significant differences were seen between sites and periods, although,
as previously reported, a clear increase in auroch introgression was observed with distance from the domestication centre. The phylogeographical analysis of both modern and ancient genomes revealed, apart from a few exceptions, a strong continuity with present-day individuals.
Date of Award11 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCeiridwen Edwards (Main Supervisor), Maria Pala (Co-Supervisor) & Martin Richards (Co-Supervisor)

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