MAN’S BEST FRIEND: Finds in Spain suggest Stone Age people and dogs lived in close contact

Image of the Virgen de la Arrixaca hospital in Murcia. Credit: Google maps - Francisco Sanchez

ANCIENT humans living in Spain lived in close contact with each other, worked together and shared a common diet, new evidence from sites in Cataluña suggests.

Archaeologists working at four sites near Barcelona have claimed dogs were fully integrated into Neolithic communities around 6,000 years ago. The remains of the dogs were found in burial plots next to those of people, with evidence suggesting they were sacrificed when their owners died.

Silvia Albizuri, of the University of Barcelona and lead author of the study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, said dogs played an important role in Neolithic economies and societies.

“They resembled the shepherd dogs of the current Pyrenees and helped with taking care of herds and settlements,” Albizuri said.

Findings from the sites showed puppies and one-year-old animals buried next to their owners, meaning they were likely killed rather than dying naturally.

There was no evidence from their bones that their bodies had been stripped of meat to eat before their burial, Albizuri said.

The Neolithic era refers to the period when humans began gathering in permanent settlements, farming and raising livestock before recorded history began.

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