What’s Up Dogs?

In early October, the skeletal remains of a dog were found right at Sechin, a 4,000-year-old site located in the Casma Valley in the northern part of Peru. The Project Director of the site Mónica Suárez said that there was also some yellow-brown fur and paw pads found preserved with the bones. The dog is estimated to be from around 1,000 A.D. While the remains are in the process of being further analyzed to discover the dog’s breed and how old it was when it died, but from the preliminary investigation, it is suggested that the dog, “was a native breed from the prehispanic era that was used in the temple.” It will be interesting to learn more about the people from the Casma Valley and how they not only lived their lives but interacted with the other forms of life around them. For example, whether the dogs like the one found last month were domesticated or not (The History Blog 2019).

Skeletal remains of a dog found in Peru this past October. Credit to the Sechin Archaeology Project, 2019

The domesticated dog. Credit to Jake Kaplan, 2019

Domestication, by definition, involves a relationship between humans and an animal population or target plant. Zeder (2012), defined domestication as a relationship where the humans benefit more and the non-human doesn’t have as much control, or where it is a mutualistic relationship between the human and non-human (162). Zeder identifies three different pathways into animal domestication (178): How they are initiated, the direction they take, and the length of time is takes to domesticate them.

Dogs are the oldest domesticated animal. Evidence suggests that they descended from ancient wolves and began being domesticated by humans during the late Glacial and early Holocene periods (14,000-9,000 years ago, BP). According to a paper written by Ovodov et al (2011) based on some remains found in the Altai Mountains in Southern Siberia that dated back to around 33,000 years ago, questions how long humans have been domesticating them? While the study did not find a relation between the remains found and modern domestic dogs, it did show possible evidence of domestication that was interrupted by the Last Glacial Maximum (AKA the last ice age). The bond between humans and domesticated dogs eventually formed forms of bonds that was more than just mutually benefitting from each other. The placement of dogs in human burials suggests that a greater bond was formed and continues to be prevalent in society today (Zeder 172).


So what were the dogs whose remains were discovered in the Casma Valley in relation to the people that once lived there? Were they there as workers, companions, or both? Were they even domesticated in the first place? Hopefully the further investigation and research of Dr. Suárez and her team will reveal more answers about man’s (or women’s) best friends.



Further Readings:

Russell, Nerissa

2011 Dogs: Domestication and the Development of a Social Bond by Darcy F.

Morey. American Anthropologist 113(4):688-689.


Simon, Scott

2015 Real People, Real Dogs, and Pigs for the Ancestors: The Moral Universe of

“Domestication” in Indigenous Taiwan. American Anthropologist 117(4):693-709.





     2019 Well-Preserved Dog Remains Found in Peru. 

     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/56645 ed. Vol. 2019, The History Blog.



     2019 Well-Preserved Dog Remains Unearthed in

     Peru. https://www.archaeology.org/news/8060-191008-peru-sechin-dog ed. Vol.

2019, Archaeology Magazine: A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America,


Ovodov, Nikolai D., Crockford, Susan J.,Kuzmin, Yaroslav V., Higham, Thomas F. G.,

Hodgins, Gregory W. L., Plicht, Johannes

2011 A 33,000-Year-Old Incipient Dog from the Altai Mountains of Siberia: Evidence of

the Earliest Domestication Disrupted by the Last Glacial Maximum. PLoS One 



Zeder, Melinda A.

2012 The Domestication of Animals. The Journal of Anthropological Research 


2 thoughts on “What’s Up Dogs?

    • A multi-species perspective can help identify and offer insight to the various experiences and roles that play in shaping relationships between humans and other species. For example, the bond between horses and their human riders was observed in order to figure out how we as a species describe “co-being.” (Maurstad, Davis, and Cowles 2013). Humans should study non-humans to learn more about how every living being mighty be able to coexist and benefit from each other in the future.

      Maurstad, Anita; Davis, Dona; and Cowles, Sarah

      2013 Co-Being and Intra-Action in Horse–Human
      Relationships: a Multi-Species Ethnography of
      Be(com)ing Human and Be(com)ing Horse. Social
      Anthropology 21(3):322-335.

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