Archaeologists have found some of the most curious canine burials ever unearthed in Egypt — two well preserved dogs buried in pots some 3,000 years ago.
Nicknamed Houdini and Chewie, the dog pots were discovered at Shunet ez Zebib, a large mud-brick structure located at Abydos — one of Egypt’s oldest standing royal monuments. The site was built around 2750 B.C and was dedicated to Khasekhemwy, a second dynasty king.
It is also known for the the thousands of ibis burials in jars that had been recovered in the dunes nearby, and for the interments of other animals, mostly raptors and canines.
“The site provided a very secure structure, with conveniently soft, sandy fill that was easy for quick burials within a sacred space,” Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo, wrote in a recently published Festschrift in honor of Dieter Kessler, a renowned scholar in the field of animal cults and Egyptian religion.
A leading expert on animal mummies, Ikram analyzed the results of a 2009 excavation led by David O’Connor and Matthew Adams, respectively director and field director of the North Abydos Project at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Digging in the Shunet ez-Zebib’s southeast corner, the archaeologists unearthed several jars containing animal burials.
“Of the many jars that were recovered, only 13 have thus far been properly investigated. Of these, four were empty, three contained ibises, and five were filled with dogs,” Ikram said.
While three pots contained skeletonized remains of dogs, the last two housed Houdini and Chewie, two animals with their fur largely intact.
“Although it is common to find birds in pots, it is rare to find other animals buried in this way,” Ikram told Discovery News.