The tomb, which includes the remains of a man, a woman and two dogs, it was discovered by chance in 1914 by a group of workers not far from Bonn (Germany). But it has now been discovered that one of the dogs had been sick for a long time and had been attended, according to the evidence found by the scientist of the University of Leide Luc Janssens, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
New research shows that the remains date back to the Paleolithic age, by which are 14,000 years old. This is the oldest tomb known where humans and dogs were buried together, and is one of the earliest evidence of the domestication of dogs. Now it seems that not only the dogs were domesticated, but that probably also were cared for intensely.
The best dog a young man in the tomb had to be 27 or 28 weeks when he died. Janssens examined the remains of the animal’s teeth. On the basis of their findings, came to the conclusion that the dog probably suffered from a serious infection of the virus morbilli (also known as distemper). It is not possible to make a definitive diagnosis because the genetic material of the virus have perished. The damage characteristic of the teeth of the dog leads to Janssens to believe that the animal contracted the disease when he was a puppy (around 3 to 4 months). After this, the dog may have had two or possibly even three periods of serious illness, which lasted 5 to 6 weeks.
“Without the proper care, a dog with a severe case of distemper will die in less than three weeks”, explains Janssens. This dog was clearly seriously ill, but survived eight weeks, which would only be possible if he had been well taken care of. “That would mean to keep it hot and clean and give him food and water, although, while he was sick, the dog would have been of no practical use as a work animal. This, coupled with the fact that dogs were buried with people that we can assume that they were his owners, suggests that there was a unique relationship of care between humans and dogs 14,000 years ago “.