Dog Skeleton

Archaeologists discover more than 100 dog skeletons dating back 1,000 years

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Peruvian archaeologists have uncovered the remains of over 100 dogs , thought to be 1,000 years old, lying alongside human remains in the ancient ruins of Parque de las Leyendas in Lima, Peru.  It is believed that the dogs were buried with their Masters as part of a ritual burial ceremony.

The Parque de las Leyendas is located amidst a big part of Lima's most extensive ancient city and is one of the most important pre-Hispanic complexes at the central Peruvian coast called the Archaeological Complex of Maranga. Archaeologists were excavating a section of the archaeological complex when they made the surprising discovery.

Sixty-two complete dog skeletons were found along with seventy-five incomplete remains.  All the dog remains were found in resting positions alongside humans.  It is most likely that when the dog’s Master died, the dog was killed in order to serve as a companion after death.

“We cannot determine with total certainty yet whether these animals were used in some kind of ritual, but given the evidence, that is the hypothesis we are handling,” said Lucénida Carrión, head of the zoo’s department of archaeology.

It is not the first time that ancient dog remains have been found in Peru. In 2006, archaeologists discovered forty mummified dogs in a 1,000-year-old pet cemetery south of Lima.  The dogs had their own graves and many of them were found with food and blankets, suggesting a belief that the animals have an afterlife.  In 2010, another 6 dogs thought to be 1,000 years old were found and earlier this year, archaeologists uncovered the remains of six more mummified dogs and four mummified children dating back to the 15 th century.

The findings indicate that dogs had an important status in ancient pre-Hispanic culture and that Peruvians clearly respected and honoured their dogs.

By April Holloway

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