Dogs and Their Collars in the Age of Enlightenment

Dog collars, which were previously utilitarian devices for controlling the animals, became ornate works of art. Introduction In medieval and Renaissance Europe, dogs were considered little more than ‘machines’ which performed certain tasks, such as guarding a home or tracking game, but this view changed significantly during the Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age[…]

Dogs and Their Collars in Ancient Mesoamerica

It seems to have been thought that these would restrict the dog’s movement between worlds. Introduction Dogs were an integral aspect of the lives of the people of Mesoamerica regardless of their location or culture and, throughout the region, were recognized as liminal beings belonging not only to the natural world and that of humans[…]

Pets in the Ancient Mediterranean

Some examples of pets in ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, Greek, and Roman art. By Arienne King The history of mankind is interwoven with the domestication of animals. Dogs may have been domesticated in prehistoric Europe perhaps as long as 36,000 years ago. The first cats are thought to have been domesticated in Egypt, while the invention of the[…]

Bonobos: Some Generous Apes and the Evolution of Human Kindness

Bonobos may help explain how humans evolved the capacity to be nice – at least some of the time. Introduction It’s feeding time at Lola ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Allez,” caretaker Bernard Nsangu shouts in French as he gets ready to distribute a morning snack. The[…]

A History of Homing Pigeons for Long-Distance Communication since the Ancient World

By 3000 BCE, Egypt was using homing pigeons for pigeon post, taking advantage of a singular quality of this bird. Introduction The true messenger pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeons (Columba livia domestica) derived from the wild rock dove, selectively bred for its ability to find its way home over extremely long distances. The rock dove has an innate[…]

What Did People Believe about Animals in the Middle Ages?

Lions, tigers, and dragons, oh my! By Erin Migdol, Elizabeth Morrison, and Larisa Grollemond During the Middle Ages (which lasted from the years 500–1500), people were as fascinated by animals of all stripes as we are—from snails to elephants to mythical beasts like unicorns and dragons. Animals represented themes and lessons from Christianity and were[…]

A Brief History of Ancient Dog Collars

The basic design of the collar has not changed since the time of ancient Mesopotamia but variations reflect different cultures. Introduction The dog collar, so often taken for granted, has a long and illustrious history. Anyone fortunate enough to share their life with a dog in the present day is participating in an ancient tradition[…]

3 Things You Need To Know Before Getting CBD Oil For Your Pets

Oh, the marvelous wellness world. It never stops surprising us with all kinds of new products that can help us get healthier in one way or another. What’s more, our animals have now become a part of this world and a wide number of manufacturers have decided that it was about time for our pets[…]

The Unicorn Myth in Ancient and Medieval Folklore

Accounts describe the unicorn as ferocious, swift, and impossible to capture, with a magical horn capable of healing numerous ailments. By Hillary Smith Introduction The unicorn, a mythical creature popularized in European folklore, has captivated the human imagination for over 2,000 years. For most of that time, well into the Middle Ages, people also believed them[…]

Dogs and Their Collars in Ancient Rome

The dog was a companion, guardian, hunter, professional fighter, tracker, fellow warrior, and sometimes a sacrifice in ancient Rome. Introduction Dogs were highly valued in ancient Rome, as they were in other cultures, and the Roman dog served many of the same purposes as it did in, say, Egypt and Persia, but with a significant[…]

Dogs and Their Collars in Ancient Greece

The most basic dog collar no doubt developed on its own in Greece, but the later ones were most likely influenced by the Egyptians. Introduction Dogs in ancient Greece are regularly depicted in art, on ceramics, in literature, and other written works as loyal companions, guardians, hunters, and even as great intuitive thinkers, and all[…]

Marine Life in Ancient Mediterranean Art

Throughout the history of the ancient Mediterranean artists were always keen to express their appreciation of the bounty of the sea. Marine life of all kinds, real and imagined, was frequently depicted on frescoes, pottery, mosaics and coins. Here are 24 images with a sea theme from the Bronze Age to the 3rd century CE, encompassing Egyptian, Minoan, Mycenaean,[…]

Horse Power: An Unbridled Selection of Horses in Getty Museum’s Art Collections

Humans have been making art about horses longer than we have been riding them. Introduction From the 17,000-year-old cave paintings at Lascaux to that iconic ‘80s Trapper Keeper, humans have been making art about horses longer than we have been riding them. Art featuring horses is so prominent in the Getty’s collections that this is[…]

Museums Preserve Clues That Help Scientists Predict and Analyze Pandemics

Genetic information that could help finger the next infectious threat is stored in museums around the world. Introduction In less than 20 years, communities around the globe have been hit by a string of major disease outbreaks: SARS, MERS, Ebola, Zika and now, COVID-19. Nearly all emerging infectious diseases in humans originate from microorganisms that[…]

Healing with Animals in the Medieval and Early Modern Levant

Since ancient times animals have been the source of medicinal substances used in various cultures. Abstract Animals and products derived from different organs of their bodies have constituted part of the inventory of medicinal substances used in various cultures since ancient times. The article reviews the history of healing with animals in the Levant (The[…]

A Brief History of Veterinary Medicine Since the Ancient World

It can be dated to 12,000-10,000 BCE though most accounts – especially concerning the dog – date this event much earlier. Introduction The English word ‘veterinarian’ as defining one who provides medical care to animals, comes from the Latin verb veheri meaning “to draw” (as in “pull”) and was first applied to those who cared for “any[…]

The ‘Dog Doctors’: Veterinary Care in Edwardian London

The first historical account of Edwardian London’s elite canine veterinarians in the early 20th century. Introduction Previous historiography identifies increasing veterinary interest in dogs as a mid-twentieth century phenomenon. Despite tension with the mainstream profession, however, an earlier group of specialist veterinarians provided sophisticated canine medical care to London society. Their activities included the policing[…]

Humans Domesticated Horses – New Archaeological Tech Answering Where and When

Archaeologists have long argued over when and how people first domesticated horses. Introduction In the increasingly urbanized world, few people still ride horses for reasons beyond sport or leisure. However, on horseback, people, goods and ideas moved across vast distances, shaping the power structures and social systems of the premechanized era. From the trade routes[…]

A Selection of Cats From Ancient Art to Present Day

Examining how cats have been historically represented since the ancient world. Introduction Furry friends can be comforting companions while many around the world are working from home. Anyone who has wondered what their cat does all day while they’re gone may have found out (answer: mostly sleeping). Artists have always used cats as subjects, whether[…]

The Odyssey of an Ancient Egyptian Cat Sculpture

Analysis of a bronze cat reveals clues about its ancient past. By Jeffrey Maish, Judith Barr, and Almoatzbellah Elshahawi Introduction Ancient Egyptians revered cats, and worshiped the goddess Bastet, who could appear in human form with a feline head, or as a cat. Bronze and wood cat statuettes were placed as votive offerings at temples,[…]

Exporting Animals in the Victorian Era

Acclimatization societies believed that animals could fill the gaps of a deficient environment. Introduction In 1890, a New York bird enthusiast released several dozen starlings in Central Park. No one knows for sure why Eugene Schieffelin set the birds aloft, but he may have been motivated by a sentimental desire to make the American Northeast[…]

A Much Too Distant Mirror: Projecting ‘History’ onto the Unknowable Animal Mind

What we really mean when we talk about “animal histories.” “Am I not a fly like thee? Or art thou not a man like me?” – William Blake Back when I taught high school in West Virginia, I lived in a $400-per-month efficiency apartment near an abandoned post office on the banks of the Little[…]

Cats in the Middle Ages

The cat lost its regal position through the efforts of the medieval Church which encouraged the association of the cat with devils and darkness. Introduction The life of a cat in the Middle Ages (c. 476-1500 CE) differed significantly from that of a dog owing primarily to its association with witchcraft, darkness, and the devil.[…]

10 Surprising Facts about Books of Beasts from the European Middle Ages

Art history students offer a bite-sized introduction to the bestiary of the European Middle Ages. Introduction The medieval book of beasts, a kind of encyclopedia of animals known as the bestiary, was full of fascinating creatures both real and fantastic. While the bestiary often linked animals to Christian beliefs, teaching readers moral and religious lessons,[…]