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,[…]

Animals in the Art of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci saw in animals the ‘image of the world’. About six months ago I stopped eating meat. I was teaching a graduate course at UCLA that investigated how Italian Renaissance writers conveyed their concepts about the human through writing about the nonhuman – plants, animals, objects, angels, demons, gods and God. As weeks[…]

Hunting in Medieval Western Europe

More than a pastime, it was an important arena for social interaction, essential training for war, and a privilege and measurement of nobility. Introduction Throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages, humans hunted wild animals. While game was at times an important source of food, it was rarely the principal source of nutrition. Hunting was[…]

Dogs and Their Collars in the Middle Ages

In Europe in the Middle Ages (476-1500 CE), dogs performed many services. Introduction Dogs have played a prominent role in the lives of humans going back thousands of years and, more than any other domesticated animal, this role has remained relatively unchanged. In the present day, dogs serve as guardians, perform tricks or tasks on[…]

Animals in World War I

Discussing the role of animals in transport, logistics, cavalry and communications in the First World War. Introduction While the First World War witnessed the development of modern, technological warfare, it also made unprecedented demands on what we might see as archaic methods of campaigning. Despite the tanks, planes and machine guns, fighting still depended on[…]

Meerkats Without History: Digging for a Non-Human Past in the Kalahari Desert

Perhaps there’s room now for a type of history that moves smoothly between human and animal subjectivities. The truth is, that man is a creature of greater power than other living creatures are … There be beasts that see better, others that hear better, and others that exceed mankind in all other sense. Man excelleth[…]

Horse Racing’s Unlikely but Indelible Mark on the History of Victoria

By Melinda Smith Horses are not indigenous to the state of Victoria or anywhere else in Australia. So, how did the Land Down Under become the greatest horse racing — especially thoroughbred racing — nation in the world? And why is Melbourne and Greater Victoria arguably the epicenter of racing in Australia? The answer to[…]

Ancient DNA is Revealing the Origins of Livestock Herding in Africa

Pastoralism is a central part of many Africans’ identity. But how and when did this way of life get started on the continent? Ancient DNA can reveal how herding populations spread. Introduction Visitors to East Africa are often amazed by massive herds of cattle with a gorgeous array of horn, hump and coat patterns. Pastoralism[…]

Cambyses II of Persia and the Battle of Pelusium: A Victory Won by Cats

The battle was won through a very unusual strategy on Cambyses II’s part: the use of animals as hostages and, especially, cats. Introduction The ancient Egyptians had a great reverence for life in all its forms. Life had been given by the gods and reverence for it extended beyond human beings to all living things.[…]

Ritual Sacrifice May Have Shaped Dog Domestication

An ancient Arctic site suggests a complex relationship between humans and dogs. By Lea Surugue In the Siberian Arctic, the Ob River flows lazily across vast, cold stretches of tundra. In the city of Salekhard, Russia, where it meets with the Polui River, lie the remains of an ancient ritual site. Overlooking the floodplains, it[…]

The Sacrificial Puppies of the Shang Dynasty

A new study suggests young dogs were frequently buried with humans in China some 3,000 years ago, but the precise reasons remain elusive. By Joshua Rapp Learn During the last centuries of China’s Shang dynasty, which lasted from 1600 B.C. to 1050 B.C., ritual sacrifice was a well-oiled cultural phenomenon, rich and varied in its[…]

“O Uommibatto”: How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed with the Wombat

Dante Gabriel Rossetti and company’s curious but longstanding fixation with the furry oddity that is the wombat — that “most beautiful of God’s creatures” which found its way into their poems, their art, and even, for a brief while, their homes. This article, “O Uommibatto”: How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed with the Wombat, was originally[…]

Animal Skin Artifacts from the Bronze Age Salt Mines of Hallstatt

The social context of cloth from the Neolithic to Bronze Age as seen in the Hallstatt prehistoric animal skin artifacts. Introduction My PhD research focused on the social context of cloth from the Neolithic to Bronze Age with case studies from the Alpine area. One aspect of this is the interrelationship of the technologies used[…]