Women in a forested area 8,000 years ago were not only in close contact with dogs, but they were also eating the same food the dogs ate and suffering from one or more illnesses the dogs had.
A new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science reveals that dogs weren't just prehistoric man's best friend. At least some women during the Early Neolithic period, and likely their children too, also lived very canine-centric lives.
"It is possible that females were more involved in caring for the dogs -- possibly more often the ones who fed them, organized living quarters for them, and cleaned up after them," lead author Andrea Waters-Rist told Discovery News.
Waters-Rist, a Leiden University archaeologist, added: "One can envision a camp in the boreal forest with people and dogs living side by side, and dogs being used in many everyday tasks, with dogs being as important to the group as they are to many people today."
Waters-Rist and her team analyzed remains from two 8,000-year-old cemeteries near Lake Baikal, Siberia. The researchers determined that women from both cemeteries had, at some point in their lives, suffered from a parasitic infection called hydatid disease, or echinococcosis.