Mihai Gligor

Relaţia om-câine în preistorie: resturi scheletice umane și de canide. Practici mortuare, dovezi arheologice și posibile semnificaţii / Human-Dog Relationship in Prehistory: Human and Canids Bone Remains. Mortuary Practices, Archaeological Evidence and Possible Interpretations

1 Ianuarie 2011

Cuvinte cheie:
good graves
human-dog relationship
dog burials
human remains



The present study concerns a rarely considered subject in the Romanian specialized literature, which is the documentation of prehistoric sites with confirmed canid burials; either individually or associated with human ones. The current state of research acknowledges multiple theories about the origin of the dog and the moment of its domestication. The most common and accepted opinion is that Canis familiaris Linnaeus (the domestic dog) is the descendent of Canis lupus Linnaeus (the wolf ). The canids are considered to be the first domesticated animals in Europe. Archaeological and zooarchaeological research from Iron Gates area, with Mesolithic sites such as Vlasac, Hajdučka Vodenica or Lepenski Vir, have produced valuable information on Canis familiaris (fig. 6). In Siberia, close to Lake Baikal (Russia), these have been found in the Shamanka necropolis (the grave of a Husky, Chow Chow or Samoyed (fig. 7) dog) and in the Lokomotiv necropolis (one of a tundra wolf (Canis lupus albus) (fig. 8–10). In Alba Iulia-Lumea Nouă two dog skeletons from the Foeni group were found, one of them having a Spondylus shell pendant (fig. 3–5). In the Neolithic necropolis of Ripoli (Italy) a woman’s grave had her feet placed on a dog skeleton (fig. 12), while in the Parma-via Guidorossi site a dog grave has been found (fig. 13). The Michelsberg culture, specific to Central and Western European Late Neolithic, presents intentional dog burials at Bretteville-le-Rabet (fig. 11) and Heilbronn-Klingenberg “Schlossberg” (fig. 16). For the British Neolithic, a complete dog skeleton has been discovered in one of the ditches of the Windmill Hill settlement, while at Grime’s Graves an intentionally buried dog skeleton (fig. 17–18) has been identified. Research at the Van-Yoncatepe (Eastern Anatolia) Hallstattian necropolis led to identification of 14 dog skulls in one burial chamber (fig. 19-20), and of a female skeleton close to a pot (fig. 21) in another. The presence of dog bone remains in inhumation graves is often considered the result of a particular attitude of the human towards the dog. This special funerary context may represent the unique bond between prehistoric humans and their dogs, reflected in activities such as hunting, guarding, or companionship. The dog protects the domestic space, the flocks and, last but not least, the human that it hunts with. This relationship can explain the dog graves found nearby the human ones, as the dog follows its master in death as in life.