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Thread: Ancient DNA from Neolithic goats in South Caucasus

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    Ancient DNA from Neolithic goats in South Caucasus

    Kadowaki et al., Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Ancient Domestic Goats in the Southern Caucasus: A Preliminary Result from Neolithic Settlements at Göytepe and Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

    This study presents preliminary results of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses of modern and ancient domestic goats in the southern Caucasus in order to examine their phylogenetic relationship with modern and ancient goats. For this purpose, seven ancient samples were obtained from two early agricultural villages in west Azerbaijan (Göytepe and Hacı Elamxanlı tepe, dated to ca. 6,000–5,500 cal BC, the Pottery Neolithic period), in addition to five modern goat samples in the same region. In the study, mtDNA segments of the control region (216 bp for the Neolithic samples and 481 bp for the modern samples) were amplified and phylogenetic analyses were performed using previously published reference DNA sequences. As a result, all the haplotypes found in this study were grouped in the haplogroup A of goats.

    The finding of the haplogroup A among domestic goats in the southern Caucasus in the early 6th millennium BC can be interpreted as part of the geographic expansion of this lineage from the areas of initial domestication to surrounding areas that include also South and Southeast Europe. In the southern Caucasus, the haplogroup A probably continued to be a major lineage among domestic goats since their emergence in this area to the present. In contrast, this lineage has not been detected among local wild goats including Capra aegagrus, indicating the external origin of domestic goats. This possibility is consistent with archaeological records that indicate sudden appearance of agricultural lifeways in the southern Caucasus and cultural connections with northern Mesopotamia.

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