A new report published in the Smithsonian magazine looks at why our ancestors buried their pets with them some 4,000 years ago.
Humans preference for dog friends had been a subject of discussion for more than a century.
Experts seldom know for sure when these four-legged buddies were first domesticated, however, archaeology provides some answers regarding the strength of their bonding with humans.
Researchers from Barcelona studied the remains from different archaeological sites found on the northeastern Penninsula.
The number of dog remains found at the site was 26. The dogs ranged between one month and six years of age. Nearly almost all the bodies were buried nearby or in human graves.
Silvia Albizuri, a zooarchaeologist said, “The fact that these were buried near humans suggests there were an intention and a direct relation with death and the funerary ritual.”
To get a clear picture, Silvia and her team of experts analyzed several isotopes present in the bones. Studying isotopes-learning about the same chemical composition can provide details about diet.
This is because of molecules that come from animals and plants with varied ratios of different isotopes. The analysis revealed only a handful of dogs consumed mainly meat-based diets.
Most dogs ate what humans ate, consuming animal proteins and wheat. Only in two adults and two puppies did the test show the diet remained mainly vegetarian.
This clearly proves that the dogs and their human friends shared a common diet. All the dug up sites belong to the Pit Grave Culture or the Yamnaya Culture. These people entered
Europe through the steppes located north of the Caspian and Black Seas. They reared sheep and also cattle for milk and spoke a dialect that experts believe is connected to many European and North Indian languages.
The discovered dog remains aren’t the oldest. The record is with a puppy skeleton found in a grave in at present Germany. The love and affection showered on the puppy to save it through illness baffled all researchers who discovered it.
The reason researchers in the study discovered so many dogs indicates that the ritual of burying humans and dogs alongside were common.
That period from the late Copper through the Bronze Age. Researchers summing up the findings said, “ The ancient people found dogs to be incredibly important to stay close in the last days.”