Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a dog buried thousands of years ago which indicates that people at the time viewed dogs as fully thinking, social entities rather than as pets.
Although some dog owners are criticised for treating their pet like a human for indulging them with luxurious food, dog toys and expensive dog collars, it seems that they were not much different from their ancient ancestors.
The dog, which resembles a Husky, was unearthed in the snowy wastes of Siberia and is said to be more than 7,000 years old.
After extensive research, anthropological archaeologists have claimed that the animal had an identical diet to its human contemporaries, received a burial on a par with them and worked for a living.
Robert Losey, of the University of Alberta in Canada, said of the remarkable find:
“Based on how northern indigenous people understand animals in historic times, I think the people burying this particular dog saw it as a thinking, social being, perhaps on par with humans in many ways.”
“I think the act of treating it as a human upon its death indicates that people knew it had a soul, and that the mortuary rites it received were meant to ensure that this soul was properly cared for.”
The dog was discovered in a burial ground, interred with many items that accompanied humans, such as a spoon carved from a deer antler.
DNA analysis revealed that the dog’s diet was identical to that of the humans found at the site; seal meat, fish, deer and vegetables.
Further analysis revealed evidence of wear and tear to the dog’s spine, which the University says suggests that the dog bore heavy loads for long periods of time. Mr Losey explained:
“This could have included carrying gear on its back that was used in daily activities like hunting, fishing, and gathering plant foods and firewood. The dog also could have been used to transport gear for the purposes of relocating settlements on a seasonal basis.”
However, doubt has been cast over the claims by the University of Victoria, also in Canada. Professor of anthropology Susan Crockford said:
“There can be many reasons for the ritual treatment of dogs, including ones we might never imagine.”
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