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Exploring the evolutionary history of Anatolian neolithic sheep using modern and ancient genomics

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2019
Yurtman, Erinç
The transition from hunting-gathering to sedentism happened in West Asia in the early Holocene, eventually giving way to the establishment of agriculture and livestock breeding. In this process, domestication of wild animals played crucial role for human settlements. The domestication center of sheep, among the main four livestock species, is thought to have been within Anatolia. Previous archaeozoological studies also suggested that after domestication this species migrated with human populations to other parts of the world. There has yet been no ancient whole-genome study investigating the evolutionary history of Anatolian sheep from the Neolithic period. In this project, we analyzed ancient genome data belonging to Neolithic sheep from Tepecik Höyük (Central Anatolia) and Ulucak Höyük (West Anatolia), comparing these with modern sheep genomic data. Three different statistical methods (PCA, D-statistics and f3-statistics) were used to understand the relationship between modern European and Asian sheep breeds and Anatolian Neolithic domestic sheep. Possible migration routes (the Land Route and the Maritime Route) that led from Anatolia to neighboring regions were investigated. We report that Anatolian Neolithic sheep samples are genetically closer to modern European sheep breeds (showing particularly high affinity to Central and Northern European breeds) than to non-European populations. This implies that Anatolian Neolithic sheep might have contributed to modern domesticated European breeds gene pool by having migrated through the Land Route. This work thus provides a first genomic insight into domestic sheep history using ancient DNA.