Life was cruel and pathetic for plenty of the dogs belonging to China’s Shang Dynasty. New study proves that most of the dogs slaughtered during the last Bronze Age were actually puppies.
Some puppies were buried alive.
The Yin or Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BCE) ruled in the second millennium Before Christ. They succeeded the Xia dynasty.
The Shang Dynasty was popular for its contribution to the field of military technology, artwork, astronomy, and math. The Shang followed both human and animal sacrifice.
Canines, in particular, often buried in small pits right below the torso, to act as a protector in the afterlife.
An archaeologist confirmed that most of the sacrificed dogs were puppies.
Why Puppies as Sacrifice?
As we all know, it’s quite hard for foreign researchers to get excavation permission in China. Researchers relied on data collected from older finds.
Dogs, experts said, were part of rituals in China. There are even dog remains found at the Jiahu settlement. It dates back some 9000 years ago.
Ancient Chinese sacrificed pigs as part of rituals, experts agree. However, during the Bronze Age cattle, goats, and sheep were sacrificed.
Deciphering the inscriptions, archaeologists confirm that canines were sacrificed to propitiate the god of the sky. At that time, both pigs and dogs were the most preferred sacrificial animal.
In the city of Zhengzhou, experts discovered pits containing the sacrificial remains of around 90 odd dogs. Some of them were buried alive.
The Erligang culture promoted the sacrifice of dogs and was buried along with their human counterparts.
Human Sacrifice in Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty royals often sent slaves and concubines to their deaths. They were buried with the elite and powerful.
Experts claim many of these individuals were war prisoners.
For persons coming from poorer backgrounds, dogs constituted the main part of the sacrifice. A puppy might work as a miniature substitute for a grown dog.
Still, it is unclear whether if a common man also sacrificed these rituals involving dogs.