Was This the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship?
Were dogs already “man’s best friend” by 6500 ac.?
Did their human masters mourn the loss of useful helpers?
The people who lived in the Illinois River Valley 8,500 years ago certainly cared about their domesticated dogs. A team of scientists has uncovered almost complete skeletons of four dogs, carefully laid on their sides, in specially dug, individual shallow graves. They are the oldest known dog burials in North America and among the oldest domestic dog remains found anywhere, says Darcy F. Morey of the University of Tennessee.
~What was notable,” says team co-leader Michael D. Wiant of the Illinois State Museum, “was that we also found the remains of humans, also in shallow graves, also lying on their sides.”
The excavators don’t know if the burial position had a ritual purpose or was just the easiest way of burial. Nor do they know if the dogs—about the size of a Brittany spaniel —were pets or if they helped hunt or transport gear and food. But, Wiant says, “there was some appreciation of these animals. Care was taken for how they were treated when they died.”
National Geographic Magazine
November 1992, (Geographica page)
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