Recent discovery in the Arabian Desert proves that humans controlled and trained dogs even before they settled down into farming communities. Archaeologists have discovered dog carvings on an ancient rock, which are believed to be the oldest known images of dogs.
The image of the rock shows a hunter drawing his bow, while 13 dogs are standing around him. Etched into the rock walls, the art shows that humans leashed the dogs during that time. The depictions of dogs date back to more than 8,000 years.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, in partnership with the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage indexed over 1,400-rock art images in the past three years, according to Science Magazine.
"The dog art is at least 8000 to 9000 years old," Maria Guagnin, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute told Science Magazine.
The rock art panels contain nearly 7,000 images of humans and animals out of which 349 are of dogs. The hunting scenes were discovered at two places – Shuwaymis and Jubbah – located in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
"When [corresponding author Maria Guagnin] came to me with the rock art photos and asked me if they meant anything, I about lost my mind," co-author Angela Perri, a zooarchaeologist at the Max Planck, told the publication. "A million bones won't tell me what these images are telling me. It's the closest thing you're going to get to a YouTube video."
According to the publication, all the art shows "medium-sized, with pricked up ears, short snouts, and curled tails—hallmarks of domestic canines." Experts believe that the dogs in the carvings resembled today's Canaan dog that roams in the deserts of the Middle East now and to keep their dogs close or to train them, the hunters used the leashes.
"It's truly astounding stuff," Melinda Zeder, an archaeozoologist at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. told the publication. "It's the only real demonstration we have of humans using early dogs to hunt."
The last oldest known images of dogs were discovered on Iranian pottery, which was said to be older than 8,000 years old. Before that, a 5,500-year-old wall painting discovered in Egypt had evidence of leashes.