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Mummified dog, found in 1953, undergoing analysis by Mexican archaeologists

A mummified dog, about a thousand years old, found in the Cueva de la Candelaria, in Coahuila – the only one that has been found in Mexico in this condition – will be subject to several studies, such as radiography and DNA tests after the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH – Conaculta) recovered it and restored it to the archaeological wealth it holds after having been in the hands of particulars.

Mummified dog, found in 1953, undergoing analysis by Mexican archaeologists
The canine is the only mummified example ever found in Mexico and one of the few in the world [Credit: DMC. INAH. M MARAT]
According to INAH specialists, this is one of the few specimens of mummified canines in the world; the other known cases are exclusive to Egypt and Peru. This specimen was reintegrated to the cultural national heritage along with 2,500 archaeological materials found in 1953.

“Said finding –detailed archaeologist Alejandro Bautista Valdespino– generates big expectations about archaeology in the north of Mexico. It reinforces the idea that dogs were placed as companions in the funerary traditions of the region’s nomads, it also presents the possibility that these animals were domesticated.”

Regarding the context in which these materials were found, archaeologist Yuri Leopoldo de la Rosa Gutierrez of the INAH Center in Coahuila, indicated that Cueva de la Candelaria was used by groups of hunters-collectors as a placement site for their dead since inside the cave they found more than four thousand objects and around 200 human skeletons. The approximate date for such remains is relative to the Late pre Historic period (800 – 1200 AD), so preliminary they have considered the mummified dog to have been dead for about 1000 years.

He also stated that the mummified dog is related to a population called “lagunero”, hunters-collectors that settled in what today is known as Comarca Lagunera (semi desert zone that includes the states of Durango, Coahuila and Zacatecas), and this is where Cueva de la Candelaria is located.

Archaeologist Isaac Aquino Toledo, investigator of DRPMZA, recalled that this rocky shelter was explored for the first time in 1953 by INAH specialists. Their finding changed the country’s archaeology completely since it held more than 4,000 objects, almost all of them organic and in excellent conservation state. Among these objects they found textiles, wickerwork, wood and bone artifacts, and 200 human skeletons.

“The mummified dog will be the first element to be analyzed; radiographies will be made to identify lesions, pathologies and possible cause of death; other studies, such as DNA, cranium, bones and teeth measurements, and carbón-14 analysis will be performed to determine the species type and family, and precise date”, said archaeologist Isaac Aquino Toledo.

Specialists preliminarily consider the animals mummification was due to natural causes and because of the humidity conditions and the weather within the cave; the hypothesis that the animal might have died of starvation also stands.

After the conservation works and the analysis of the recovered objects some of them will be exhibited for the first time in the Regional Museum de la Laguna.

Source: Art Daily [November 16, 2012]

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