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Bronze Age Russian boys killed pet dogs to become warriors

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Analysis of the remains of 51 slaughtered dogs found in eastern Russia suggest that they were killed as part of an initiation rite for boys looking to become warriors.

At first, archaeologists Dorcas Brown and David Anthony were deeply puzzled. While excavating the Bronze Age site of Krasnosamarkskoe in Russia’s Volga region, they unearthed the bones of at least 51 dogs and 7 wolves. All the animals had died during the winter months, judging from the telltale banding pattern on their teeth, and all were subsequently skinned, dismembered, burned, and chopped with an ax.

Moreover, the butcher had worked in a precise, standardized way, chopping the dogs’ snouts into three pieces and their skulls into geometrically shaped fragments just an inch or so in size. “It was very strange,” says Anthony.

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Story: Heather Pringle, National Geographic | Photo: Yulia Rubtsova, ITAR-TASS/Alamy

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