Early Companions

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British archaeologists discovered the remains of an 1,800-year-old Chihuahua-sized dog, a find that unearths interesting new details about Britain under Roman rule, the Smithsonian Magazine reported.

The little pooch was found buried in a Roman-era villa near Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire. Analysis of its remains showed that it was likely a female, less than eight inches tall from paw to shoulder, and had a similar bowlegged stature to a dachshund.

The canine was one of 15 small- to medium-sized dogs discovered at the villa, which belonged to wealthy occupants living in Roman-occupied Britain between the third and fourth centuries.

Zooarchaeologists Hannah Russ and Sarah Everett believe that its small size and presence suggested that the little animal was not bred for hunting or herding.

“This, along with the fact that she might have even been buried with her owner, makes it far more likely that she was kept as a house dog, lap dog, or pet,” they added.

Other researchers explained that small dogs were likely introduced to the island following Rome’s occupation in 43 AD. They added that breeding tiny dogs as pets was a sign of the Roman elite displaying their wealth and extravagance.

Apart from the dogs, the team also discovered other animal remains at the villa, including farm animals, as well as ravens and crows that were possibly used for ritual or ceremonial purposes.

Historians noted that the findings show a glimpse into Roman family life that is often overshadowed by military stories. The presence of a beloved tiny dog shows the affection its owners had for it, not unlike many today.

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