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Typical Near East mitochondrial haplotypes of the T2 lineage were found in one cattle metacarpus sample from the Roman period and in two present-day Evolène cattle in Switzerland. Sequences from eight additional Evolène and four Raetian Grey aligned to the European haplotype T3. Analysis of nucleotide diversity within the mitochondrial D-loop of both studied Swiss cattle breeds revealed high haplotype diversity and similar diversity to a European cattle reference group. Mitochondrial T3 haplotypes radiated star-like from two similarly frequent haplotypes, possibly indicating two different expansion routes. The breed structure of Evolène cattle can be explained either by an introduction of diverse female lineages from the domestication centre or by later admixture. The introduction of the Near East lineage to Switzerland must have happened during the Roman time or earlier.