It is believed that the majority of the breeds we now know are descended from the
Eurasian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa). Archaeological evidence from the Middle East indicates
domestication of the pig occurs as early as 9,000 years ago, with some evidence for
domestication even earlier in China. Figurines, as well as bone, dating the sixth
or seventh millennium BC have been found at sites in the Middle East. Pigs were also
a popular subjects for statuettes in ancient Persia.
While most livestock were utilized initially by nomadic peoples, swine are more indicative
of a settled farming community. The reason for this is simply because pig are difficult
to herd and move for long distances. Pigs have become vital to the economy in parts
of the world. For example, there exists a "pig culture" in New Guinea as strong and
complex as any African culture based on cattle.