An international team of archaeologists have discovered about eight million dog mummies at the ancient Egyptian burial ground, Saqqara necropolis.
Studies on the animals’ bones indicate that the dogs are from different breeds, though they are not accurately identified yet, researchers explain.
“The study revealed that some of excavated animals were old while the majority had been buried hours after their birth,” said the local excavation team leader Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo (AUC).
As some people light a candle in churches and believe that their prayer is taken directly up to God through its smoke, in a similar way, a mummified dog's spirit was believed that would carry a person's prayer to the afterlife, Ikram explained.
Saqqara dog catacomb was first discovered in 1897 by the French Egyptologist Jacques De Morgan who published Carte of Memphite necropolis along with a map illustrating two dog catacombs in the spot.
“Morgan’s reports shows that the area also includes the burials of, and temples for other animals such as bulls, cows, baboons, hawks and cats that were thought to act as intermediaries between humans and their gods,” said the team’s international leader Paul Nicholson from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.
Researchers are examining the animals’ bones to ascertain their patterns of mortality, Nicholson noted.