Dog remains more than 8,400 years old found at Stone Age burial site

Dog remains more than 8,400 years old are discovered next to human bones at a Stone Age burial site in Sweden

  • Remains of a dog that are more than 8,400 years old have been found in Sweden
  • The dog was buried next to a human in a Stone Age burial that is pre-Viking era
  • The dog is part of the goods grave tradition, where the living would leave valuables or sentimental objects next to the dead
  • The dog’s remains were found in an ongoing excavation that has uncovered at east 56 ancient structures, along with fireplaces, postholes  and pits 

Archaeologists uncovered ancient dog remains more than 8,400 years old at a Stone Age area burial site in Sweden.

The canine was buried alongside human remains, which was part of an ancient tradition called ‘grave goods’ – the living would leave valuables or sentimental objects with the dead.

An animal osteologist examined the bones but found there is not a modern dog comparable, saying it was ‘like a powerful greyhound.’

The settlement, originally built near the coast, was covered by rising sea levels that layered sand and mud over the remains that kept the artifacts preserved for thousands of years.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient dog remains more than 8,400 years old at a Stone Age area burial site in Sweden. The canine was buried alongside human remains, which was part of an ancient tradition called ‘grave goods’

The area where the dog was found is part of a vast site where local authorities and archaeologists are currently carrying out one of the largest archaeological digs ever undertaken in the region.

The settlement is located in what is now Ljungaviken in Sölvesborg and has been a prime site for archaeologists since 2015.

During the excavation, the team has found evidence of at least 56 structures that once stood at the site, along with postholes and pits.

The dog bones are a new discover and have not been removed from the ground yet but archaeologists plan to eventually take them to the Blekinge Museum for study.

An animal osteologist examined the bones but found there is not a modern dog comparable, saying it was ‘like a powerful greyhound’

The settlement is located in what is now Ljungaviken in Sölvesborg and has been a prime site for archaeologists since 2015. During the excavation, the team has found evidence of at least 56 structures that once stood at the site, along with postholes and pits

Osteologist Ola Magnell of the Blekinge Museum said of the discovery near the town of Solvesborg, said: ‘The dog is well preserved, and the fact that it is buried in the middle of the Stone Age settlement is unique,’

Museum project manager Carl Persson said ‘a sudden and violent increase of the sea level’ flooded the area with mud that had helped preserve the burial site. An ongoing archaeological excavation has involved removing layers of sand and mud.

The Swedish archaeologists said the dog was buried with a person, noting that survivors often leave valuable or sentimental objects with the dead.

The settlement, originally built near the coast, was covered by rising sea levels that layered sand and mud over the remains that kept the artifacts preserved for thousands of years

The area where the dog was found is part of a vast site where local authorities and archaeologists are currently carrying out one of the largest archaeological digs ever undertaken in the region. 

Such findings ‘makes you feel even closer to the people who lived here,’ Persson said in a statement.

‘A buried dog somehow shows how similar we are over the millennia when it comes to the feelings like grief and loss.’

The area is believed to have been inhabited by hunters during the Stone Age.

A residential community is expected to be built on the burial site once the archaeologists are done.

Dogs seem to have been man’s best friend for thousands of years, as archaeologists are uncovering remains all over the world that suggest they were domesticated pets.

Earlier this month, a team discovered what they believe could be the oldest ever remains of a pet dog.

Earlier this month, a team discovered what they believe could be the oldest ever remains of a pet dog. Experts suspected the remains are between 14,000 and 20,000 years old, spanning back to the very dawn of the special relationship between humans and canines

Experts suspected the remains are between 14,000 and 20,000 years old, spanning back to the very dawn of the special relationship between humans and canines.

Researchers from the University of Siena in Italy hope their discovery can shed light on how dogs made the change from wild carnivores to loving companions.

One theory is that wolves became scavengers out of necessity due to a lack of food, and this took them close to human settlements.

Some experts believe the animals and humans slowly developed a bond and the symbiotic relationship flourished from there.

Others think wolves and humans worked together when hunting and this is how the relationship spawned.

The research team from Siena University hopes that the surviving fragments of one of the first dogs to live alongside humans as a pet could help find a definitive answer.

Dr Francesco Boschin led a piece of research, published in August in Scientific Reports, on early canine remains found at two paleolithic caves in Southern Italy, the Paglicci Cave and the Romanelli Cave.

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remains from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present.

‘This unambiguously documents one of the earliest occurrence of domesticates in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe and in the Mediterranean.’

Writing in this study, the scientists say: ‘Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remains from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present’

However, further analysis which is still ongoing shows this figure could indeed be much later, towards 20,000 years, Dr Boschin told RealPress.

‘From an archaeological point of view, the oldest remains of domesticated dogs were found in Central Europe and date back 16,000 years,’ Boschin said.

‘In the Mediterranean area we have now established that domesticated dogs lived here 14,000 years ago for sure, but possibly even 20,000 years ago

DOGS FIRST BECAME DOMESTICATED ABOUT 20,000 to 40,000 YEARS AGO

A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains revealed that dogs were domesticated in a single event by humans living in Eurasia, around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Dr Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor in evolution at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline: ‘The process of dog domestication would have been a very complex process, involving a number of generations where signature dog traits evolved gradually.

‘The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs likely arose passively, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps feeding off refuse created by the humans.

‘Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this, and while the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic [mutually beneficial] relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.’

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