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New study reveals that Europeans were buried with their pets almost 2,200 years ago

Out of the 161 people buried at an archaeological site in Verona, Italy from the 3rd to 1st century BCE, 16 were discovered with some sort of animal remains.

New study reveals that Europeans were buried with their pets almost 2,200 years ago
Representative Cover Image Source Pexels: cottonbro studio; EurekAlert

The love pet parents have for their furry companions is a timeless characteristic for humankind, it seemds. Researchers recently discovered people from an ancient community in Northern Italy were buried with animals such as pigs, dogs and horses, per PLOS One. Though the reasons for doing this remain mysterious, it could be an "enduring companion relationship between these humans and animals, or religious sacrificial practices," according to a press release.

Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

The study was conducted by Zita Laffranchi from the University of Bern, Stefania Zingale from the Institute for Mummy Studies, Eurac Research Bozen, Umberto Tecchiati from the University of Milan, and colleagues. Reportedly, out of the 161 people buried at Seminario Vescovile, an archaeological site in Verona from the 3rd to 1st century BCE, 16 were buried with some sort of animal remains. “Some of the graves contained the remains of animals often eaten by people—including many pigs, a chicken and part of a cow—which may have represented food offerings to the dead. But four of the people buried on the site were buried alongside the remains of dogs and/or horses, which are not commonly eaten,” states the press release.

Image Source: PLOS ONE
Image Source: PLOS ONE

Though the researchers tried to understand the demographics, diets, genetics, and burial conditions of the interred humans and animals, they could not find any notable correlations. They also think that this might be a practice of a certain family. The authors said, “The lack of patterns among these graves means that multiple interpretations of these human-animal co-burials remain possible. The researchers believe that animals like dogs and horses often had religious symbolism in ancient cultures, but, at the same time, specific individuals may also have been buried with their animal companions.

Moreover, the authors noted that these human-animal burial practices might have been determined by the interplay between different individual traits and societal customs. “This study, which is part of the CELTUDALPS research project (co-financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Province of South Tyrol and coordinated by Marco Milella of the University of Bern and Albert Zink of the Institute for Mummy Studies, Eurac Research), explores burials of horses and dogs with humans and may hint at unknown rituals and beliefs during the late centuries BCE in Italy,” added the authors, per the release.


While talking about the wholesome relationship between humans and animals, Miss Liu wants to leave her fortune of 20 million yuan (about $2.7 million) to her cats and dogs in her will. It was not the plan for Miss Liu. Reportedly, in the last three years, her children did very little to keep up their relationship with her even though she was ill. The only company she had was her pets. Chen Kai, an official from the country's Will Registration Centre headquarters in Beijing, said that according to Chinese law, pets cannot inherit money from humans. "However, there are alternatives to solve this issue," Kai said.

Image Source: Pexels | Canan YAŞAR
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Canan YAŞAR

She has appointed an administrator for her fortune. After she passes away, the administrator will ensure that the pets and their offspring are looked after well, using the funds she has left behind. She selected a local veterinary clinic to carry out this duty. Kai further added, "Liu's current will is one way and we would have advised her to appoint a person she trusts to supervise the vet clinic to ensure the pets are properly cared for."

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