See how dogs were celebrated in the ancient world

For millennia, our canine friends took their place front and centre in remarkable artefacts and artworks.

By Kristin Romey
Published 11 Mar 2019, 10:16 GMT
A pack of swift dogs are shown hunting an antelope in a rock art from Libya's ...
A pack of swift dogs are shown hunting an antelope in a rock art from Libya's Akakus mountains, which dates back 12,000 years.
Photograph by Robert Preston Photography, Alamy

Speedy, Tiger, She-Wolf: These were all very good names for a dog 2,000 years ago, according to the Roman writer Columella. Ideal dog names are not too short, he explained, but “not very long, so that each [dog] may obey more quickly when he is called.”

But already thousands of years before the Romans were weighing in with opinions about their canine companions, dogs had developed a close partnership with people around the world. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint exactly when and where dogs were domesticated, but we do know that by 12,000 years ago they were being depicted on stone columns and buried in the arms of humans.

While not all ancient cultures have left us with such exacting canine insights as the Romans did, their relationships with dogs shine through in the art they created and the objects they left behind for archaeologists to discover. Here's a look at some of our favorites.


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