The face of a 4,000-year-old dog has been brought back to life by a team of researchers and forensic artists.
In 1901, archaeologists found the 4,000-year-old remains of at least 24 dogs in Cuween Hill chambered cairn on Orkney, off the northern coast of Scotland.
Now, a team of scientists at Edinburgh University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has CT-scanned one of the Cuween Hill canine skulls.
This enabled the researchers to make a 3D print, which was in turn used by forensic artist Amy Thornton to create a realistic model of the dog’s head, building up muscle, skin and hair in the same way she would approach a human head.
“The size of a large collie, and with features reminiscent of that of a European grey wolf, the Cuween dog has much to tell us, not only about ceremonial practices and the symbolic significance of the dog in Late Neolithic Orkney but also about the appearance of domestic dogs in the third millennium BC,” said Dr. Alison Sheridan, Principal Archaeological Research Curator in the Department of Scottish History and Archaeology at National Museums Scotland.
“Just as they’re treasured pets today, dogs clearly had an important place in Neolithic Orkney, as they were kept and trained as pets and guards and perhaps used by farmers to help tend sheep,” said Dr. Steve Farrar, Interpretation Manager at Historic Environment Scotland.
“But the remains discovered at Cuween Hill suggest that dogs had a particularly special significance for the farmers who lived around and used the tomb about 4,500 years ago. Maybe dogs were their symbol or totem, perhaps they thought of themselves as the ‘dog people’.”
“While reconstructions have previously been made of people from the Neolithic era, we do not know of any previous attempt to forensically reconstruct an animal from this time.”
“Looking at this dog helps us better relate to the people who cared for and venerated these animals, people whose ingenuity and sophistication made Orkney such an important place in the Neolithic and who have left us with such a rich legacy of monuments today.”
“This reconstruction has been a particularly interesting project to be involved in, as it marks the first time I’ve employed forensic methods that would usually be used for a human facial reconstruction and applied these to an animal skull,” said Thornton, who trained in facial reconstruction methods while undertaking an MSc in Forensic Art at the University of Dundee.
“This brought its own set of challenges, as there is much less existing data relating to average tissue depths in canine skulls compared to humans.”
“The reconstruction was originally created in clay using traditional methods, with a 3D print of the Cuween Hill skull as the base to build the anatomy on to. The completed sculpture was then cast in silicone and finished with the fur coat resembling a European grey wolf, as advised by experts. The resulting model gives us a fascinating glimpse at this ancient animal.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/archaeology/neolithic-dog-07115.html