Sacrificed dog remains feed tales of Bronze Age ‘wolf-men’ warriors | Science News

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Sacrificed dog remains feed tales of Bronze Age ‘wolf-men’ warriors

Find is first archaeological evidence of coming-of-age rites described in ancient myths, researchers claim

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7:00am, August 7, 2017
Russian dog skull

SLICE RITES  Nearly 4,000 years ago, at a site in what’s now Russia, teenage boys ate dogs or wolves to join war bands, a contested report says. Dogs’ heads were commonly chopped in pieces designated by lines on this skull.

Remains of at least two Late Bronze Age initiation ceremonies, in which teenage boys became warriors by eating dogs and wolves, have turned up in southwestern Russia, two archaeologists say. The controversial finds, which date to between roughly 3,900 and 3,700 years ago, may provide the first archaeological evidence of adolescent male war bands described in ancient texts.

Select boys of the Srubnaya, or Timber Grave, culture joined youth war bands in winter rites, where they symbolically became dogs and wolves by consuming canine flesh, contend David Anthony and Dorcas Brown, both of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. This type of initiation ceremony coincides with myths recorded in texts from as early as roughly 2,000 years ago by speakers of Indo-European languages across Eurasia, the researchers report in the December Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.  

Those myths

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