These images show the skull and skeleton of a chihuahua-like dog which was kept as a pet in Ancient Rome and buried alongside humans.
The discovery was made by a team of archaeologists from the University of Granda (UGR) in the city of the same name in the southern Spanish autonomous community of Andalusia.
According to research published by the team in the scientific magazine ‘Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences’ the skeleton of the dog was found in the Roman necropolis of Llanos del Pretorio from the first century B.C. in the nearby city of Cordoba.
Rafael M. Martinez Sanchez, the main archaeologist involved in creating the research, told local media: “It is particularly remarkable we have found a small dog (a little more than 20 centimetres tall), with shortened limbs and a snub nose, in a grave next to human burials.”
According to the UGR, the skeleton is one of the oldest of its kind to be found at an excavation site.
Reports said that the dog could be similar to the breeds Pekingese or chihuahua although is difficult to determine its features through its skeleton.
The study of the archaeological remains also revealed an old hip injury and signs of traumatic cervical torsion which points to the dog having been deliberately killed, local media reported.
Reports said that a thorough examination of the bones and the teeth allowed the archaeologist to determine that the dog was of foreign origin and not a local breed.
Martinez Sanchez told local media: “The existence of small dogs as pets, objects of affection and special consideration for their owners, has been known since classical antiquity, a fact corroborated by texts, epigraphy and iconography.”
Scientists from the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences (IACT-CSIC, Granada) and the Institute of History of the CSIC (Madrid) reportedly collaborated in the research.