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Study Looks at Why Neolithic Humans Buried Their Dogs with Them (smithsonianmag.com)
55 points by pseudolus 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments



There's no answer to the "Why" question to be found here.


> some Paleolithic humans regarded some of their dogs not merely materialistically, in terms of their utilitarian value, but already had a strong emotional bond with these animals

> ancient humans found the animals to be important enough to stay close to even in death

They buried their dogs with them because their dogs were important to them, for the many reasons listed in the article.

I'm not sure what more explanation you're looking for - you're not going to get a more definitive explanation of the thought processes someone who's long dead are you?

Also the headline says that a study is looking at it. They didn't claim to have a clear answer.


You quote them giving precise and definitive answers, then say they can't give them. They can, and seemingly have given such answers, just entirely unscientifically.

>They buried their dogs with them because their dogs were important to them, for the many reasons listed in the article.

Or, they kept excess puppies as food, and buried food with bodies; or they considered the animals to be tools and thought they'd be useful in the next life.

Nothing they mention seems to imply, nor require emotional attachment.

The food angle seems weird, if you don't make any effort to procure different food then doesn't that show less attachment; only feeding the animal any excess (for example) seems less attached than preparing a specific diet.


>Or, they kept excess puppies as food,

We’d find knife marks on dog bones at their refuse sites, from the butchering process, and dog proteins in their faeces. That’s how we know a lot of ancient populations practiced cannibalism.


>We’d find knife marks on dog bones at their refuse sites //

Are you saying we don't; that's kinda fascinating because I'd expect all creatures with pelts to be skinned if found recently dead, or killed (eg for mercy, food, ritual).

>"Samuel Belknap III, a graduate research assistant working under the direction of Kristin Sobolik in UMaine’s Department of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute, found a 9,400-year-old skull fragment of a domestic dog during analysis of an intact human paleofecal sample.

>"The fact that the bone was found in human waste provides the earliest proof that humans in the New World used domesticated dogs as food sources.

>"“This is an important scientific discovery that can tell us not only a lot about the genetic history of dogs but of the interactions between humans and dogs in the past,” said Belknap. “Not only were they most likely companions as they are today, they served as protection, hunting assistants, and also as a food source.”" (https://phys.org/news/2011-01-oldest-domesticated-dog-americ...) //


For specific cultures I'm not familiar with I have no idea, but people can and do eat dog meat. I'm just saying such questions are not purely in the realm of unverifiable speculation as there is specific physical evidence we can look for. My wife is Chinese from Hohhot and used to have a taste for it, though not so much these days.


As I said, nobody can ever have a definitive answer for someone's motivation for doing something. Any reasonable person knows that so the report takes the linguistic shortcut of just stating their assumptions.

Anyone reading this article and expecting some kind of falsifiable scientific proof of a human's intentions is not going to get it.


And their assumption is backed up by later cultures, still thousands of years in our past, from which we have written records. People seem to have placed high value on their dogs both as tools and companions then too. Considering the long history of dog domestication, it is not at all unreasonable to assume that earlier cultures had similar relationships.


Species being useful, and species being food are not always contradictory (cf draught animals).

Perhaps they only ate the really good dogs to retain their essence ...


Or we get lots of ad hoc answers to the "Why" question. Sometimes, the nature of the question itself changes.


Anyone who watched UK Channel-4 "time team" will know the answer, whatever it is, will be "ritual"


So, is it just me, or are they dancing around the obvious suggestion from the evidence, that when someone died they would kill their dog and bury it with them? Perhaps because a strong bond with a dog sounds good, and "kill the dog when the owner dies" does not sound as great.


Maybe they buried the humans with the dogs. That would be creepy.


I'd suggest most dog owners would think it's bleeding obvious why.

We might do so today except there's bound to be a regulation against that, and modern society has a very odd relationship with death.


I haven't read the article. As a dog owner my assumption is there was a special trained bond between human and his dogs. They would have been impossible to handle after his death anyway so they would have been killed and buried along with him.




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