Mesa Talk

Prehistoric Dogs

Of the Southwestern United States

Over the last 20,000 years, dogs have followed their human companions to every continent, holding a wide array of roles in human society. In the American Southwest, archaeological evidence of dogs spans the region and shows this species took part in everyday life as well as ritual activities. Because of their close relationship with humans, analyzing the skeletal remains and deposition context of these dogs provides insight into the lives of prehistoric people. A case study focusing on a ritual dog burial dating to AD 600 from the Mimbres Mogollon site of Kipp Ruin demonstrates the significance of this relationship. The results of contextual and morphological studies, as well as chemical analyses of bones and tooth enamel, offer clues into the everyday lives and ritual practices of the prehistoric inhabitants of Kipp Ruin.