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The Saluki: History & Origins

The Ancients:
One of the earliest civilizations known to have spread across Mesopotamia were the SUMERIANS.  Recent excavations of ancient Mesopotamia/Sumerian Empire (7000-6000 B.C.) have unearthed evidence of dogs with a striking resemblance to the Saluki.  The Sumerians kept these canines for hunting and left various carvings and seals of them. The dating of these discoveries indicate that the Saluki may very well be the oldest domesticated, purebred dog in existence.  
Seals similar to these were found with castings of Saluki-like hounds


Mummified hound found in Egypt.

Excavations in Egypt have also yielded valuable evidence of early domestication of the dog, and reliefs and artifacts give clear illustrations of their size and conformation.  The ANCIENT EGYPTIANS had several distinct types of dog, obviously selected and developed to perform specific duties.   Cherished by the Egyptians as "El Hor", The Noble One, the Saluki assumed a position of unparalled importance.   Saluki type dogs with feathering on the ears, legs and tails were found carved on Egyptian tombs dating back to 2100 B.C.  A bas-relief from Thebes, dated 1450 BC, shows two hounds similar to Salukis, pulling down game.  Tutankhamen's tomb yeilded an ostrich-feather fan decorated with a scene showing the boy king hunting ostriches with a bow and hounds as well as several other good depictions of King Tutankhamen with his favourite hounds.

 
Saluki in Ptolemaic Egyptian
Salukis were obviously among the favorite dogs of the Egyptians, and were also known as the Royal Dogs of Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians worshiped their Salukis and when one died the family would go into a state of mourning, shaving off their eyebrows as a sign of respect, and wailing and beating gongs.  In fact, so great was the esteem with which these hounds were held that their bodies were often elaborately preserved by mummification, much like the bodies of the Pharoahs themselves, and buried with their ornate collars.   Some mummified dogs have even been found wearing collars bearing their names. 
 
Other types of dogs found include Mastiffs, pointers, terriers and a dog similar to the Pharaoh Hound.  The remains of Salukis have even been found lying alongside the remains of Egyptian Pharaohs. Numerous specimens have been found in the ancient tombs of the Upper Nile Region.   Most of these early Salukis were smooths clearly showing drop ears as opposed to the  "rose" or "pricked" ear.
As the great trade routes developed and spread so did these members of the dog family, and each area and culture developed it's own "type" to prosper in certain climatic regions and serve specific functions.  Sight hounds were needed for hunting game in open arid lands and gave rise to the variety in type and species seen today.
Early Man Needs Dog | The Ancients | Nomadic Peoples | Function & Form | Hunting Technique
Saluki Explorers | They Have Feathers? | Temperament | Salukis In Art | Resources & Breeders
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