Archaeologists have found some of the most curious canine burials ever unearthed in Egypt -- two well preserved dogs buried in pots some 3000 years ago.
The dog pots were discovered at Shunet ez Zebib, a large mudbrick structure located at Abydos. The site was built around 2750 B.C and is one of Egypt's oldest standing royal monuments. It was dedicated to Khasekhemwy, a second dynasty king.
The site is also known for the the thousands of ibises that were found buried in jars and deposited in the dunes nearby, and for the interments of other animals, mostly raptors and canines.
A 2009 excavation revealed several jars containing animal burials. Of the many jars that were recovered, only 13 have been properly investigated. Of these, two contained "Houdini" and "Chewie," two well preserved animals -- most likely dogs -- with their fur largely intact.
Houdini, a large very furry creature, was found in a large two-handled pot, and was buried without any wrappings. He was found curled up at the bottom of the jar with its nose pointing toward its hind legs. "It seems as if he were put into the pot, hind limbs first, then adjusted and the rest of the body pushed in so that he was curled around," Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo and a leading expert on animal mummies, said.
The researchers nicknamed the creature Houdini after the magician as they could not figure out how such a large animal was crammed into this pot.
Not as well preserved as Houdini, the other dog, nicknamed Chewie, was found in a large jar filled with the broken pieces of another large pot, which was used as a packing material to keep the animal in situ.
"The bones from his right foreleg were pushing through the skin and yellow fur," Ikram said.
Both animals were mature -- probably around five years of age when they died.
"Sealed and buried in layers of protective sand, and cocooned in their jars, the animals' bodies were well preserved so that they could serve as vehicles for their spirits, or kas, for eternity," Ikram said.