Head of 4000-year old dog found in Orkney tomb alongside remains of eight humans

The head of a dog from more than 4000 years ago has been recreated from a skull found in a tomb on the isle of Orkney.

Amy Thornton, a forensic artist, used a 3D print from a CT scan of the prehistoric creature's skull to recreate the animal's likeness.

It is believed to be the size of a large Collie with similar facial characteristics to a European grey wolf, The Daily Record reports.

The skull itself was found at Cuween Hill in Orkney in 1901 – one of 24 discovered there along with the remains of eight human beings.

It is thought the dogs were buried there more than 500 years after the passage tomb was built, suggesting a ritual burial.

Ms Thornton used identical techniques to those the ones she would usually use to recreate a human head in her day job.

She said: "The reconstruction was originally created in clay using traditional methods, with a 3D print of the Cuween Hill skull as the base to build the anatomy on to.

"The completed sculpture was then cast in silicone and finished with the fur coat resembling a European grey wolf, as advised by experts.

"The resulting model gives us a fascinating glimpse at this ancient animal."

Steve Farrar, interpretation manager at Historic Environment Scotland who co-produced the image, said: "Just as they are treasured pets today, dogs clearly had an important place in Neolithic Orkney, as they were kept and trained as pets and guards and perhaps used by farmers to help tend sheep.

"But the remains discovered at Cuween Hill suggest that dogs had a particularly special significance for the farmers who lived around and used the tomb about 4,500 years ago. Maybe dogs were their symbol or totem, perhaps they thought of themselves as the 'dog people'.

"While reconstructions have previously been made of people from the Neolithic era, we do not know of any previous attempt to forensically reconstruct an animal from this time."

The model will go on display in Orkney this year.

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