Cult practices revealed at Bronze Age Temple complex in Levant
|Cranium of puppy twisted to the right [Credit: Paleontological Research Corporation]|
Here, Klenck directed the removal and excavated the skeletal remains of dozens of juvenile dogs, ravens and crows in various states of articulation. In 2011, the animal bone data was compared to the unique material assemblage at the site that includes serpent figurines, the upraised arm of a statuette, and a pentagram design in preparation for a forthcoming manuscript. Many of the puppies, ravens and crows surrounded a square altar with a mudbrick base several meters away from the main sanctuary.
|View of sacrificial remains including (A) unbaked clay figurine, (B) remains of disarticulated corvid, (C) cattle tooth, and (D) juvenile dog [Credit: Paleontological Research Corporation]|
The cultic significance of why puppies, ravens and crows were dispatched is less clear. Klenck notes several inscriptions that might shed light on the ideological motivations of the inhabitants at Tel Haror.
|Raven skeleton (A) next to right jaw bone of lamb (B) [Credit: Paleontological Research Corporation]|
Further, Hittite texts such as the Ritual of Tunnawi mention puppies in rituals for purification, healing and to ward off evil omens. In contexts from the tenth century B.C., dog burials were found in a ramp leading to a temple at Isin in ancient Babylonia. Conversely, ancient Israelites considered dogs and corvids to be unclean and these animals were forbidden in their sacred areas.
|Puppy skeleton (A) ringed with plaster next to unbaked clay figurine (B) and fragments of pottery and bone [Credit: Paleontological Research Corporation]|
Source: Paleontological Research Corporation via SBWire [March 17, 2012]