Philistines Brought Their Pigs With Them
The cattle remains found at Megiddo and Azekah of 2,900 years ago turn out to be a crossbreed of zebu cows (which originated in India and spread into Mesopotamia and onwards) and taurine cattle (a subspecies that originated in the Near East).
Cattle then were used mainly to farmThe farmers may have discovered the advantages of crossing their taurines with zebus by serendipity, but in any case, the zebu has better heat tolerance, due to low metabolic rates, high density of sweat glands and large skin surface, as well as better resistance to insects, ticks and protozoa.
It is not surprising, then, that zebu and their crossbreeds dominate today in relatively arid regions such as the Indian subcontinent, Israel and most of Africa, including Egypt.
During much of the Late Bronze Age, 3,500 years ago, Egypt controlled the southern Levant, placing garrisons and bureaucrats in key locations such as Gaza, Jaffa and Beth-She'an. Egyptian imports have been found throughout Canaan, storing grain grown on the coast to feed Egyptian soldiers garrisoned in the Levant.
“We think it was in the best interest of the Egyptians, who ruled the region, to expand dry farming in times of droughts. Therefore, they either brought inbreeds, or they brought zebus and crossbred them in the southern Levant,” Meiri told Haaretz.
Archaeo-zoological investigation of the faunal assemblages from Late Bronze Megiddo demonstrates continuous increase in cattle frequencies during the period of Egyptian rule in Canaan. Cattle were kept to an older age, perhaps an indication of their use as plough animals.
But as civilization throughout the Southern Levant collapsed in the 12th century B.C.E., the Egyptians withdrew from Canaan. And the Sea-Peoples moved in, filling the power vacuum, and brought their own pigs, the scions of whom remain with us to this day.
DNA analysis of 3,000-year old cow bone: They turn out not to have crossed the main with the Sea Peoples.- Joseph Maran