This thread presents “The True Story about Ancient Greek Dogs” for the 3rd Public Archaeology Twitter Conference #PATC3. I’m a zooarchaeologist, so the question is what can we learn from their bones?
It is so easy to see ourselves and our own furry companions in this scene
These categories of dogs are easy to find in both ancient texts and art. Hunting hounds were commonly depicted from the Bronze Age onwards
These are clearly pets.
Dogs were sacrificed too, like Patroklos’s hunting hounds burned on his funeral pyre
The Agora Bone Well from Ancient Athens included the bones of over 150 adult dogs, deposited among 450+ newborn children. It was likely a purification ritual related to infant mortality
The dog mandible below is from Azoria on Crete. The cutmark on the interior was likely from removing the tongue. Unfortunately, no ancient Greek recipes for dog tongue survive
The butchery methods were similar to pigs, with kneecaps chopped similarly off and dog mandibles given special attention. Like pork cheek, dog cheek, was potentially a cured delicacy
But the true story is more complex. The bones show these categories, but also strays, sacrifice & dog consumption