Donkeys are one of the least studied large domestic animals, even though they are economically important in many regions of the world. They are predominantly used as transport animals. Consequently, they are not kept in large numbers and this limits the number of archaeological specimens available for study. The donkey’s closest relative is the African wild ass, and genetic studies and zooarchaeological analyses of early donkeys indicate domestication of two genetically separate groups of wild asses in Africa. Maternal relationships revealed by mitochondrial DNA show that one group of donkeys was derived from the Nubian wild ass and that one was derived from an unknown ancestor distinct from the Somali wild ass.