Saturday, 2 Mar 2024

Dogs with super sniffing skills help scientists find 3,000-year-old bones

Using their noses to sniff out bones up to 3,000 years old, specially trained dogs are helping German archeologists unearth treasures at ancient excavation sites.

Last week, the elite canine team was called to help archaeologist Birgit Anzenberg at a dig site in Neufahrn bei Freising, some 25 kilometres north of Munich in Bavaria.

The researcher explained that the area was inhabited during the Iron Age and early Celtic period. On top of a settlement from those times, there is also an ancient Roman road running through the site.

The dogs under the guidance of their owners, were let free to sniff through the site, looking for the scent of bone remains signifying potential burial sites.

‘We meet at an excavation site and then the first dog searches over this limited area as it wants to search. It can go left, right, how it thinks it has to search, where it gets its scent from. And this search gives us certain insights,’ said Dietmar Kroepel, founder of Archaeo Dogs.

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Afterwards a different dog is told to start searching, with the owner not being told about the previous dog’s findings.

Two years of training is needed for a dog to become an Archaeo Dog, according to Mr Kroepel.

He added that the dogs hit a ratio of over 90 percent and being able to smell bones as deep as 14 metres (45 feet).

Not just archaeologists rely on the dogs, some of the dogs receive additional training to help police with ‘cold cases’.

Kroepel and his team spend many of their weekends traveling all over Germany. For him it’s the thrill of contributing to history and research. For the dogs, sniffing and running is a weekend well-spent.

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