Archaeological dogs sniff out six ancient tombs

Trained police bloodhounds have discovered Iron Age tombs during excavations in Croatia.

The findings are three thousand years old, writes The Guardian.

The animals searched by smell for funerary sarcophagi with human remains and artifacts on a hill off the Adriatic coast.

“Dog noses are not wrong,” says archaeology professor Vedrana Glavaš, who first used the method with animals during excavations.

Initially, Vedrana found three tombs in a necropolis near a fort dating back to the eighth century B.C. Hoping to find more, she contacted a cynologist. Her partner was Andrea Pintar, an expert in training police dogs to search for corpses in criminal investigations.

First, the trained animals were sent to an area with three already known tombs, which, however, were not clearly visible. The bloodhounds had no trouble locating them even though human remains and artifacts had by then been removed from there and the excavation area had been exposed to wind, sun, and precipitation.

“Probably the porous rock around the burials had absorbed enough decomposition odor for trained dogs to detect them,” Hlavash commented.

The animals were then released at a location where other tombs could presumably have been located. They were extremely quick and accurate in pointing out the locations of six more.

“We use at least two dogs to confirm the finding,” Vedrana continues. – During the experiment, the second canine and bloodhound were not told where the first specialist and his four-legged ward found the burial.”

Experts believe the use of canine sniffing is a promising way to locate archaeological sites. It does not destroy finds, unlike some modern methods, and can be effective in situations where other search methods do not work.

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