By Alton Parrish | Ineffable Island
Dogs were the first animal to be domesticated and worked with hunters before the advent of farming. Dogs are descended from a grey wolf ancestor.
While conducting research in the Saudi Arabian desert, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology uncovered significant evidence of early human settlement in the region. Over 1,400 images carved in the rock show people hunting with dogs. The researchers believe they are at least 8,000 to 9,000 years old.
Hunting scene with a lion and two dogs. A further five dogs are engraved behind the lion. The carvings were highlighted in white to make the images clearer.
Excavations prove that the region was settled 10,000 years ago. People began keeping livestock here some 7,000 to 8,000 years ago. The research team suspects that the hunting scenes predate that period which means they are more than 8,000 years old. It is believed that other rock art showing herds of cows were completed at a later date. As these images partly cover the hunting scenes and possess similar stylistic characteristics, the difference in age is probably not that great.
It is notable that individual dogs are kept on leashes in the hunting scenes. Images of leashes had only previously been found in ancient Egyptian art which is much more recent. The hunters may have wanted to prevent valuable dogs particularly adept at picking up the scent of prey from getting injured during the hunt. Alternatively, they may have wished to keep the dogs close to them for their own protection. Another possibility is that they kept leashes on young dogs who they wanted to train to hunt.