Ancient inhabitants of Atapuerca were caught eating dogs

(ORDO NEWS) — Spanish scientists examined the remains of animals found during the excavation of the El Portalon de Cueva Mayor site and found that the inhabitants of this site periodically ate dog meat. The oldest evidence of cynophagy was about 7000–7240 years old.

Perhaps the inhabitants of Atapuerca resorted to this in times of famine or considered dog meat a delicacy. This is reported in an article published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

The dog (Canis familiaris) was the first animal domesticated by man. Perhaps this happened more than 30 thousand years ago, that is, in the era of the Upper Paleolithic.

This is indicated by the remains discovered back in the 1970s in Altai, as well as a recent find made in Belgium. However, not all researchers support this point of view, suggesting that domestication took place about 13 thousand years ago.

In many ancient and modern cultures, the dog was perceived not only as a guard, vehicle or hunting assistant, but also as a source of protein food, for example, in Europe, the oldest evidence of eating dog meat dates back to the Mesolithic era.

Moreover, in a number of South American cultures, in Korea and China, special meat breeds of these animals were bred.

The modern negative attitude towards cynophagy is largely due to the spread of Abrahamic religions (or their influence), where dog meat is either under a direct ban (as in Islam) or is not on the list of permitted food animals (as in Judaism and Christianity).

Ancient inhabitants of Atapuerca were caught eating dogs 2

Nuria Garcia (Nuria Garcia) from the Complutense University of Madrid, together with colleagues from Spain, studied the faunal remains that were found in the cultural layers of the cave of El Portalon de Cueva Mayor (El Portalon), belonging to the period from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.

In total, archaeologists have unearthed 5,431 identifiable bones from the Atapuerca site, 130 (2.4 percent) of which belonged to dogs. Scientists noted that 23 finds belong to the Neolithic, 26 to the Chalcolithic, and 81 to the Bronze Age.

On dog bones from different cultural layers of paleozoology, evidence was found that people sometimes used these animals for food. This is confirmed, in particular, by incisions made by tools, traces of human teeth, as well as changes in bones caused by fire or boiling.

An analysis of materials from the El Portalon cave suggested that the attitude towards dogs in the Iberian Peninsula changed over time, since they were rarely eaten in the Neolithic era, but they began to do so noticeably more often in the Bronze Age.

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The oldest plausible example of eating dog meat was a bone, which is about 7000-7240 years old. Along with similar evidence from 7180–6970 years ago at the nearby El Mirador site, the El Portalon find represents the earliest example of cynophagy in the Iberian Peninsula during the Holocene.

At the same time, paleozoologists noted that the proportion of dog bones in the collected collection is quite low, significantly inferior to the remains of sheep, goats, cattle and pigs.

Most of the found dog bones belonged to adults, that is, dogs were not deliberately bred for meat, as was done, for example, by the Maya in Belize.

Paleo zoologists concluded that in El Portalon these animals were eaten only occasionally, for example, in times of shortage of other food or as a delicacy. In addition, three dog bones were found next to the skeleton of a buried child suffering from rickets and scurvy, which can be interpreted as a symbolic offering.


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