Dog Sacrifices Found in Medieval Hungarian Village

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A medieval Hungarian town full of ritually sacrificed dogs could shed light on mysterious pagan customs not found in written records from the era, a new study suggests.

Roughly 1,300 bones from about 25 dogs were recently discovered in the 10th- to 13th-century town of Kana, which had been accidentally unearthed in 2003 during the construction of residential buildings on the outskirts of Budapest.

Researchers found ten dogs buried in pits and four puppy skeletons in pots buried upside down.

During the Middle Ages it was customary in Hungary to lock sacrificial animals inside new houses or to slaughter the beasts as people moved in.

Previous evidence of animal sacrifices—seen even under churches, in Budapest and elsewhere in Hungary—had been mostly isolated cases, Daróczi-Szabó noted.

But the new findings, described this month in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, show that "sacrifices were not a rare phenomenon, as one may have thought from isolated finds," she said. "It was practiced regularly in a Christian village."

The fact that pagan customs such as animal sacrifice persisted for centuries side-by-side with the church is surprising, noted University of Edinburgh archaeozoologist László Bartosiewicz.

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