Brilliant preservation shown in a mummified dog from El Deir via Livescience
The remains of over 400 dog mummies have been discovered in the ancient site of El Deir, an ancient Roman fortress from the late third-century AD. Fascinatingly, one of the dogs was so well preserved (as seen pictured above) that the remains of two ectoparasites remained. The parasites identified are the common brown tick and louse fly. Both are known to carry harmful diseases, to both dogs and humans. It is an interesting discovery for attempts to understand the co-evolution of disease in mammals.
It is rare to find ectoparasites, as they live outside of the body, however they were attested in Greek literature but are now slowly being archaologically proven.
The mummified dog was discovered in one of many tombs that surrounded the Roman fortress. The hardened skin remains of maturing fly larvae also suggests that the dying or dead dog attracted two species of carrion flies before it was mummified. It certainly appears there was no foul play, so this dog almost certainly died of natural causes and was not sacrificed to the jackal headed God Anubis. In fact, it was stipulated by the discoverers that the dog likely died of a disease called babesiosis, a condition that destroys red blood cells. This has been asserted because the dog was young, and it is known that ticks carry this disease.
Many questions remain about the mummified dogs of El Deir. Archaeologists are trying to answer questions like whether the dogs were domesticated, where they came from, if they had owners and whether they were sacrificed or died of natural causes. All the answers will further highlight the relationship between man and man’s best friend, as well as elucidating ideas on why animals were in fact mummified. Commonly, mummified animals served as offerings to gods, to eat in the afterlife or to be as pets.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of further research.
Full article here: Livescience