Rob Losey publishes a high-profile article on dog burials
Rob Losey publishes a detailed study of the relationship between people and dogs in the Early Neolithic on the basis of a fine analysis of dog bones interred within dog cemeteries in Siberia.
Arctic Domus member Rob Losey publishes a detailed study on the relationship between dogs and humans on the basis of diet. The data came from a large collection of dog skeletons from cemeteries in Eastern Siberia. The article has already generated a great amount of media attention.
The first objective of this study is to examine temporal patterns in ancient dog burials in the Lake Baikal region of Eastern Siberia. The second objective is to determine if the practice of dog burial here can be correlated with patterns in human
subsistence practices, in particular a reliance on terrestrial mammals. Direct radiocarbon dating of a suite of the region’s dog remains indicates that these animals were given burial only during periods in which human burials were common. Dog burials of any kind were most common during the Early Neolithic (,7–8000 B.P.), and rare during all other time periods. Further, only foraging groups seem to have buried canids in this region, as pastoralist habitation sites and cemeteries generally lack dog interments, with the exception of sacrificed animals. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data indicate that dogs were only buried where and when human diets were relatively rich in aquatic foods, which here most likely included river and lake fish and Baikal seal (Phoca sibirica). Generally, human and dog diets appear to have been similar across the study subregions, and this is important for interpreting their radiocarbon dates, and comparing them to those obtained on the region’s human remains, both of which likely carry a freshwater old carbon bias. Slight offsets were observed in the isotope values of dogs and humans in our samples, particularly where both have diets rich in aquatic fauna. This may result from dietary differences between people and their dogs, perhaps due to consuming fish of different sizes, or even different tissues from the same aquatic fauna. This paper also provides a first glimpse of the DNA of ancient canids in Northeast Asia.