Archaeologists Have Found Confirmation Of The Close Proximity Of Ancient People With Dogs

Video: Archaeologists Have Found Confirmation Of The Close Proximity Of Ancient People With Dogs

Video: Archaeologists Have Found Confirmation Of The Close Proximity Of Ancient People With Dogs
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Archaeologists Have Found Confirmation Of The Close Proximity Of Ancient People With Dogs
Archaeologists Have Found Confirmation Of The Close Proximity Of Ancient People With Dogs
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Top left. Remains of a dog in a burial at La Serreta. Bottom right. Drawing of the location of the remains of people and a dog in the necropolis at Bobila Madurell.

People who lived on the Iberian Peninsula in the Neolithic era, 6, 2-5, 6 thousand years ago, apparently lived side by side with dogs, says the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. They probably prepared food for the animals (sometimes they kept the animals on an almost vegetarian diet) and buried them with the deceased, albeit after sacrificing the dogs.

Ancient people buried dogs along with people back in the Paleolithic era. By the Neolithic, the practice of joint burials existed, including in many regions of southern Europe. On the Iberian Peninsula, it appeared at the end of the 5th millennium BC. Judging by the remains of dogs found in the burials, they were sacrificed. This is confirmed by the fact that skeletons of dogs were also found in ceremonial places of that period, which were scattered throughout the peninsula.

Such burials were especially numerous in the northeast of the peninsula, in present-day Catalonia. Archaeologists led by M. Eulàlia Subirà from the Autonomous University of Barcelona examined the necropolis and several individual burials that date back to 6, 2-5, 6 thousand years ago, and studied the remains of 26 dogs found there. They determined their ages and determined the ratios of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the remains of 18 animals and found out how different the diet of dogs and their owners was. The ratio of nitrogen and carbon isotopes makes it possible to determine the diet of a person or animal in childhood and adolescence.

The dogs ranged in age from one month to six years, but more than half of them died before the age of two. Together with them, both adult men and women, as well as adolescents and children under six years old were buried. Therefore, the researchers did not find a connection between these animals and any specific sex and age group of people. Some of the dogs were not buried in close proximity to people, but separately, among other domestic animals. Interestingly, the sizes of the dogs were about the same, the length of their bodies ranged from 40 to 50 centimeters. “The fact that animals were chosen for burials up to one year old indicates that they were probably sacrificed. On the one hand, we can assume that they were then eaten. But the fact that the dogs were buried next to humans suggests that it was intentional and some kind of funeral ritual took place here,”explains lead author Silvia Albizuri of the University of Barcelona.

The isotope ratios in dog remains showed that the diet of dogs and their owners was very similar (the diet of people from some Catalan burials was studied in other studies). The dogs were fed not only meat, but also vegetables and grain. Four dogs were kept on an almost vegetarian diet, and two on a meat diet. “These results show that dogs and humans coexisted side by side. It is possible that the food for the dogs was specially prepared, which is evident in cases of a vegetarian diet. Perhaps humans did this so that the dogs would focus on their duties of protecting people, rather than scouring for food. This could explain the approximately the same size of the dogs,”says Eulalia Subira.

The emotional attachment of humans to dogs seems to have originated millennia ago. People cared for and looked after sick animals, as evidenced by the oldest joint burial of people and dogs, made 14 thousand years ago. In it, archaeologists found the remains of a seven-month-old puppy, which probably suffered from the plague. The disease affects dogs as young as 3-4 months old, and the fact that the puppy has lived this long seems to indicate that he was cared for by humans.

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