Thursday, March 27, 2008

Early Egyptians Revered Lowly Donkeys
When archaeologists excavated brick tombs outside a ceremonial site for an early king of Egypt, they expected to find the remains of high officials who had been sacrificed to accompany the king in his posthumous travels.

Instead, they found donkeys.

No other animals have ever been found at such sites. Even at the tombs of the kings themselves, the only animals buried alongside were ones full of symbolism like lions.

But at this funerary complex, overlooking the ancient town of Abydos on the Nile about 300 miles south of Cairo, the archaeologists discovered the skeletons of 10 donkeys that had been buried as if they were high-ranking human officials.

There's a few good bits in there, notably regarding domestication. They indicate that the critters were not distinguishable from wild forms which sort of, but does not entirely, undercut one of those Signs of Domestication (morphologically different, out of natural range, etc.); they're not really mutually inclusive.

Too bad it's not the same today. One thing I just hate hate HATE about working in Egypt is the poor quality of the animals. Donks (homar) are widely abused, not necessarily intentional physical abuse -- though that does happen -- but they don't receive the best care, generally.