Archaeologists Find Deformed Dog Buried Near Ancient Child In The Philippines

Three dog skeletons from Santa Ana, Manila, Philippines, dating to the 12th-15th centuries via forbes.com

By Kristina Killgrove/forbes.com – In several pre-Spanish Colonial period graves in Manila, archaeologists have found the remains of domesticated dogs dating to the 12th-15th centuries AD. One particular dog, found buried next to a child, showcased spinal deformities that suggest this was a cherished animal.

In the 1960s, archaeological excavation in Manila within the district of Santa Ana revealed over 300 graves dating to the so-called protohistoric period prior to Spanish colonization. Dog skeletons were also found during this excavation, but were not recorded as meticulously as were the human remains. Grave number 120, however, appeared to have held both a child and a dog. At the time, archaeologists concluded that early Filipinos perceived animal companionship to be important in the afterlife.

A new analysis of the canine remains from Santa Ana has just been published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology by Timothy Vitales of the National Museum of the Philippines. Vitales found that all five dogs he was able to examine were consistent with domesticated animals, although only three of the dogs had relatively complete skeletons. While he could not determine breed from the remains, Vitales found that the measurements of the ancient canines were in line with those of modern Philippine dogs known as askal or aspin.

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