Ancient Dogs of the Middle East

Dogs have been man’s best friend for more than a few millennia now. First used as hunting and farm aids, now they are bred for companionship. A recent study from January has revealed that they might have been used for hunting more than 11,000 years ago by people in the Middle East.


Shubayqa 6 is an excavation site located in the northeastern part of Jordan where researchers recently found fragmented canine bones. The bones reveal that these dogs come from the same time when hunting for hare and other small prey peaked. More evidence can be extracted from the bones of the prey as they contain many markings that can only be caused by a canine bite.

Scientists believe that the prey might have been hunted and forced into tight enclosures for easier capture. This goes against previous beliefs that dogs were used only for hunting large game. As the human population grew and the need for food increased, hunters started incorporating dogs into small-game hunting parties. This shortage of food also influenced the development of farming.

The scientists also believe that people allowed their canine companions to feed and collect leftovers at designated butchery spots. These findings also show clear evidence of dog domestication in the Mediterranean parts of the Middle East.

Also, there are two present-day tribes which still forage their food, and their behavior might give some insight into how ancient tribes of the Middle East used dogs for hunting. The Mayangna and Miskito people can be found in the Nicaraguan rainforest. They hunt pacas with the help of dogs. The dogs sniff out the pacas’ homes, and then the hunters have an easier time locating the elusive ground-dwelling rodents.

Since wild hares tend to live in nests located above ground, researchers speculate that a similar tactic might have been employed and that is why dogs were of great value to the ancient people that inhabited Jordan.

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