World’s first images of dogs—and they’re wearing leashes

Carved into a sandstone cliff on the edge of a bygone river, a hunter draws his bow for the kill. He is accompanied by thirteen dogs, each with their own markings, two with lines running from their necks to the man’s waist. A new study reveals these engravings may date back more than 9,000 years, making them the earliest depictions of dogs in the archaeological record. The carvings are from northwestern Saudi Arabia where archaeologists have catalogued more than 1400 rock art panels containing nearly 7000 animals and humans Settlers began entering this part of Saudi Arabia about 10,000 years ago. Early engravings of women, switched to scenes of cattle, sheep and goats when the region’s hunter-gatherers became herders around 7000 to 8000 years ago. In between these eras are the early hunting dogs – medium-sized, with pricked up ears, short snouts, and curled tails— hallmarks of domestic canines. All of the dogs look a lot like the Canaan
dog, a largely feral breed that has called the desert home for thousands of years, an indication that these ancient people were breeding dogs adapted for hunting in the desert. Researchers found one aspect of these carvings to be especially striking – the leashes. This would have been early days for any type of dog, as the animal may have been first domesticated as recently as 15,000 years ago Until now, the earliest evidence for such restraints came from a wall painting in Egypt dated to about 5500 years ago Arabian hunters may have used the leashes to keep valuable dogs close and protected, or they could have been a way to train new dogs. Or the lines might not be leashes at all, but instead be just a symbolic depiction of the bond between humans and dogs and there is still some doubt about the dating of engravings. It’s possible that the engravings were made more recently, and that the artists were just representing scenes from their cultural past. To confirm the timing, scientists will need to link the images to a well-dated archaeological site, a difficult task in a region with a spotty archaeological record. If these engravings do indeed prove to be as old as they seem, they would offer a fascinating insight into how these ancient hunter-gatherers used the bond between man and dog to brave the harsh climate of the Arabian Desert.

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22 thoughts on “World’s first images of dogs—and they’re wearing leashes

  1. Amazing how closely the ancient dogs resemble modern dogs. Maybe they vary by size even though the overall look is the same?

  2. What's much more impressive isn't the presence of dogs, since whe know from the fossil record that the domestication of dog is much older than nine thousand years. What's really astonishing is the really modern shape of the hunter's bow. It is clearly a composite bow, since it's impossible to make such a tool from a single piece of wood. Nor Egyptians neither Greeks or Romans are known to have used bows that shape. One of the oldest images of bows like this are known from the Scythian art of 4th century BCE in what's today's Ukraine, but its use became widespread in the Western world only centuries later. All the bows in those carvings shown in the video are represented the same way. Were they really so advanced in hunting tool making? Did they learn it from some other more advanced civilization? I think this is the really interesting detail in those carvings.

  3. I'm sorry but all the men in these carvings are depicted as having boners (erections). They must have really been excited by their dogs.

  4. Cool video. But unless we're supposed to interpret present-day as "year zero" and the 2000 years to the right of that as the future, you screwed up your chart. Which one is it? 10,000 years ago or 12,000 years ago?

  5. maybe the boners to tell you they are men or they haven't invented cloth at that time
    all what i Know is that a to much honesty from the human who draw this that he transferred the full picture to my head

  6. هاذي ديار عبس فيه معلوم عبس … عبس هاذا نفر كويس فري فري نايس ابس

  7. Was the Arabian peninsula a desert 10,000 years ago? I saw something about it not being a desert until more recent times.

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