Just a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle, a team of archeologists and anthropologists has unveiled the buried remains of five dogs from two millennia ago.
The recent discovery at the Ust-Polui excavation site in Salekhard, northern Russia, further shows that the lives of people near the Arctic Circle in Siberia around 2,000 years ago were closely tied to their canine companions, Live Science reports. The dogs were buried together and seemingly with care, suggesting a degree of emotional closeness to the animals.
This is far from the only discovery of dog bones at Ust-Polui. Previous research has discovered many more dogs were buried at the site.
"The most striking thing is that the dog remains are really abundant compared to all other sites in the Arctic – there are over 115 dogs represented at the site," lead researcher Robert Losey told Live Science. "Typically, sites have only a few dog remains – 10 at most."
The importance of this new find is that it shows a “special relationship” between man and beast. It suggests that the dogs were kept as pets or respected hunting partners. Many of the hundred-odd dog bones found at Ust-Polui featured heavy cut marks, indicating that they were butchered for food or perhaps a sacrificial ritual. However, these five showed no such signs and appeared to have died of other causes.
"The only thing that distinguishes them from the human burials is their location. No other animals at Ust-Polui were treated like this," Losey added.
This isn’t the first known instance of ancient dog graveyards. Working at the University of Alberta, Robert Losey has worked on numerous studies that have detailed the long history of human-animal relations. A previous study of his documented other burial sites that contained dog bones as far back as the Neolithic period, around 8,000 years ago.
[H/T: Live Science]