Hapi Puppy

May 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm 3 comments

A friendship that will truly last  forever

Today Discovery News reportsthat a puppy mummified 2,300 years ago was recently discovered lying at the feet of an Egyptian mummy.  The mummy’s tomb was inscribed with the phrase “Hapi-Men” prompting University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology staff to name the young dog “Hapi-Puppy.”

The approximately 2,300-year-old puppy, revealed during a recent CT scan, is thought to be one of the world’s rarest mummified animals. Early Egyptians often preserved cats, birds and even crocodiles, but not often dogs.

Jennifer Wegner, a senior research scientist in the museum’s Egyptian section, explained to Discovery News that unlike some of the other more commonly mummified animals, the ancient Egyptians “had no dog gods, per se, although certain gods, like Anubis, could take the form of a jackal.”

“In this case, we think Hapi-Men simply wanted to be buried with his beloved pet,” she said, explaining that “Hapi-Men” translates roughly to, “The Apis bull endures,” referring to the bull god Apis.

(SmartDogs would like to point out that the statement that early Egyptians did not often preserve dogs by mummification is not entirely accurate.  While most Egyptologists do believe that pet dogs were not commonly mummified and buried with their owners – we do know that hundreds [if not thousands] of Egyptian dogs and jackals were mummified and buried to commemorate Anubis, the god of the underworld.)

The puppy, who is described as being “generally of the Jack Russell type”, may not have been terribly hapi about his own untimely demise.  While the cause of the dog’s death is not yet known, due to his youth, researchers believe that he may have been killed to accompany his master after death.

“We see this as a senseless slaughter today, but in ancient Egypt it would’ve been viewed very differently,” Monge explained. “People then felt life on Earth was very short. Hapi-Men wanted to spend all of eternity with his dog.”

hapipuppy Hapi Puppy

Hapi Puppy may be one of the most ancient mummified dogs yet discovered, but his Egyptian masters weren’t the only ancient culture that honored the bodies of their beloved canine companions after death.  Back in 2006, National Geographic reported that 43 mummfied dogs had been discovered in a thousand-year-old pre-Inca Chiribaya culture cemetery near Lima, Peru.

The researchers found 43 dogs buried in separate plots alongside their human owners, naturally preserved by the desert sands and ensconced with treats for the afterlife.

“We have found that in all the cemeteries, always, in between the human tombs there are others dedicated to the dogs, full-grown and puppies,” Guillen told the Associated Press.

“They have their own grave, and in some cases they are buried with blankets and food.”

The discovery speaks volumes about the high status the Chiribaya culture placed on the dogs, which Guillen says were prized for their skill in herding llamas.

Why does Guillen believe these were herding dogs?  In Red Orbit she is quoted as saying:

“They are dogs that were thanked and recognized for their social and familial contribution,” anthropologist Sonia Guillen said. “These dogs were not sacrificed.”

[...]

“We have found similar dogs” to the Chiribaya shepherds, he said. “But it is better to take precautions before confirming the existence of a type of original animal.”

Ricardo Fujita, a genetics researcher at Lima’s San Martin University, said the physical traits suggests a link between today’s’ short-snouted, long-haired dogs and their possible Chiribaya ancestors. But the jury is still out.

“We are conducting DNA analysis on the ancient dogs to compare them to the new ones, but it will be months before there are results for a final verdict,” he said.

BBC News reportedthat the Chiribaya shepherds looked like small golden retrievers with long, golden coats.  Even though the data appears to have been collected three years ago, I wasn’t able to find any reports on the results on the DNA testing of the Chiribaya shepherds on the web.  Oddly, several references to DNA analysis of fleas collected from the dogs were available.

Speaking of mummified dogs – mummytombs.com has this storyabout a modern canine mummy – the Hound of Waycross.  

He (or she–now there’s no way to tell) was a four-year-old hunting dog in the 1960s. Accompanying its master on a hunt, it ran off to chase a squirrel or a raccoon. The critter must have scrambled into a hollow chestnut oak tree, because the bog did the same. Only the hound dog could not get out. It was wedged in the tree so tightly that it couldn’t move. It died.

Rather than decaying, the dog became a natural mummy due to the conditions of its “coffin.”  First, all scent of the dead dog went up the inside of the tree like a chimney. Predators and insects never got wind of the hound dog. Second, the dog’s body was well protected (and well-ventilated) in the hollow trunk. Finally, resins from the core of the tree may have helped in the dog’s preservation.

Sometime in the 1980s, loggers were cutting trees in the forest. Without knowing it, they cut down the dog’s tree and placed it on a logging truck. Then they looked inside and saw the mummified dog. Rather than send him to the sawmill, the loggers donated the dog and its tree coffin to the Southern Forest World Museum in Waycross. 

Following his or her un-hapi demise and subsequent discovery, the Hound of Waycross is now on exhibit at Southern Forest World Museum in Waycross, Georgia.

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Around the Web Angry Farewell Notes From Runaway Dogs

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. YesBiscuit!  |  May 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    So what kind of fleas were they, according to the DNA testing?<—————–IMPORTANT

  • 2. SmartDogs  |  May 2, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    MUMMIFIED fleas – of course!

    SRSLY – they were. And of two species; Pulex simulans and Pulex irritans. I should also have mentioned that some of the “snacks” buried with the Chiribaya shepherds were Chiribaya Guinea pigs ;-)

  • 3. Pai  |  May 6, 2009 at 9:01 am

    The article brought up a point I hadn’t considered before: It’s true that we see the killing of pets (horses, even) to be buried with their owners as cruel. But we forget that life expectancies for people was very short back then, and probably even shorter for their animals.

    If you see it in the light of a person who, sincerely believing in an afterlife that only a proper burial could bestow on a soul, chose to take their puppy into eternity with them instead of leaving them behind to a short mortal existence, it’s actually a beautiful gesture.

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