• February 26, 2024

6,000-Year-Old Dog Remains Found On Arabian Peninsula : NPR

When archaeologists dug an old grave in Saudi Arabia last year, they were surprised to find the remains of a dog that was buried next to people about 6,000 years ago.

“It was an incredibly exciting moment,” says archaeologist Hugh Thomas. “Suddenly we realized: Wow, do we have the oldest domesticated dog in Arabia?”

Found buried next to humans, these 6,000-year-old remains are believed to be the earliest example of dog domestication in the Arabian Peninsula. The Royal Commission for AlUla, Discovery and the University of Western Australia hide subtitles

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Royal Commission for AlUla, Discovery and the University of Western Australia

Found buried next to humans, these 6,000-year-old remains are believed to be the earliest example of dog domestication in the Arabian Peninsula.

Royal Commission for AlUla, Discovery and the University of Western Australia

The burial indicated the dog was domesticated, says Hugh. Signs of aging and arthritis on the dog’s bones confirmed the theory that wild animals would not have lived that long.

Given the age of the grave, Thomas suspected that he had found an historically early example of a dog. He wanted to use carbon-14 tests to date the remains to see if he had a discovery on his hands.

Then hit COVID-19. The team packed their things, rushed out of Saudi Arabia, and left a lot of archaeological evidence behind.

While he was in quarantine at home, Thomas began to write a study on land surveying and submitted it for publication. The publisher asked about the age of the dog. The best Thomas could come up with was a broad estimate based on human bones.

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Then suddenly a tiny piece of the dog’s jawbone was extracted from the site and subjected to a carbon-14 test. It turned out to be the oldest domesticated dog in the region.

The 6,000 year old remains are not groundbreaking; one of the earliest reports of dog domestication comes from 14,000 years ago in Germany. However, this discovery gives researchers a clue about ancient life in the area.

“Small facets like this, like a single dog bone with a carbon 14 date, suddenly become an important part of these people’s history,” says Thomas. “It goes very well with the rock art we have in the area showing the packs of dogs used for hunting.”

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Thomas’s team combined the bone sample with other types of evidence to get a clearer understanding of the story. A large piece of the historical puzzle was rock art – paintings and etchings on slabs of rock that were created by humans thousands of years ago.

archaeologist Maria GuagninThe rock art specialist has teamed up with Thomas to develop the historical narrative around this oldest example of the domestication of Arab dogs.

“There has always been this debate,” she says. “How much control did humans actually have over these dogs? Only debris cannot really answer this question. In rock art we could see that there were leashes and there was clear control over dogs. … It was a pretty tight one Relationship. “

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In addition to leashes, the rock painting shows dogs that help with the hunt and other parts of daily life.

“Of course a bond between these people and the dogs would grow,” says Thomas. “Just like we have a bond with dogs today.”

Anna Sirianni and Patrick Jarenwattananon produced and edited the audio version of this story.

Jack

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