February 18, 2014

ASU archaeologist comments on Aztec dog burial

Posted: February 18, 2014
Archaeology professor Michael E. Smith
ASU professor Michael E. Smith in the field at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico. Smith, an expert in Mesoamerican archaeology and ancient urban centers, was recently asked by the Associated Press to weigh in on the discovery of an Aztec dog 'cemetery.'

Dogs have long held a special place in the hearts of humans. For the Aztecs, they were guides into the afterlife and guardians of the living, the dead and sites of importance.

Proof of dogs’ important role in Aztec society was unearthed recently, under an apartment complex in Mexico City. An excavation, led by Rocio Morales Sanchez, yielded the remains of 12 medium-sized dogs interred in a small pit between 1350 and 1520 A.D.

The Associated Press’ Olga Rodriguez asked Arizona State University Mesoamerican archaeologist Michael E. Smith to comment on the find, the first of its kind.

“This is not the first time a burial of a dog has been found, but it is the first find where many dogs were carefully buried together, in a setting that is like a cemetery,” he said.

Usually, dog burials are found accompanying human remains, or as sacrificial offerings, neither of which seems the case here.

Smith is awaiting analysis of the bones, hoping that the results will shed light on the dogs’ breed and how they were killed.

“The full significance of the finds is rarely obvious at the time of excavation,” he explained. “The analysis will give the full story.”

Smith is a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He specializes in researching ancient urban centers, such as the ruined metropolis of Teotihuacan, outside Mexico City. He is a pivotal part of the ASU Teotihuacan Research Laboratory.

Article source:
ABC News


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