The sacrifice of dogs can be linked to a number of forms of funerary practice or ritual action. In a funerary context, the dog can be present in the grave together with the deceased or can be used in rites after the burial. This study examines the use of dogs in ritual contexts only. In Italy there is archaeological evidence for dogs used for ritual purposes from the early Neolithic through the Roman periods. There is also literary evidence, in the form of texts from later periods, indicating that by these later times dog sacrifice was seen as an aspect of ancient tradition, and that these traditions were often no longer fully understood. In the case of public cults, there is evidence in the Chalcolithic period for the sacrifice of dogs in sanctuary contexts, although dogs as a species are always a minor component of the larger animal sacrifice. In these contexts, the dogs are often butchered. In contrast to cult assemblages from large public contexts, sacrificial remains associated with private cult, practiced in the environment of daily life, are often recognizable only with difficulty. None the less, we can deduce from a reading of Latin authors and pre-Roman texts that dogs were sacrificed on occasions both public and private in nature, some of which involved the consumption of meat. In other cases, the dog was buried whole.
Il sacrificio del cane può essere collegato sia a pratiche finerarie che a azioni rituali. In ambito funerario il cane può essere deposto insieme al defunto, oppure essere usato in rituali successivi. Nei contesti rituali si ha evidenza del sacrificio del cane fino dal Neolitico fino al periodo romano. Si hanno anche testimonianze letterarie per i periodo più recenti. Il cane poteva essere consumato o sepolto intero.
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