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the Guanches

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« on: February 15, 2007, 01:33:28 pm »

The Canary Islands and their Indigenous Hounds

Dog-taming was a cultural feature of the early European Cro-Magnons and related archaic Caucasian peoples; according to the source, Dog Domestication and History,:

Dogs were first domesticated approximately 12,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Earliest canine fossil remains were discovered in Iraq and Jordan. Oldest European evidence of dogs was discovered in Yorkshire, England. Those remains were determined to be approximately 9,000 years old. Bones of early dogs have been found in Europe and Asia in archeological digs of human sites.some people speculate that dogs were originally kept as sources of food or that perhaps, in the course of day to day hunting and scavenging, a cooperative relationship developed between primitive dog and man. [http://loudoun.nv.cc.va.us/vetonline/vet116/Dogs/dogdomest.htm]

And Professor I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr. cites the following data about the genesis of dog-taming:

"....Breeds of dogs can not be distinguished from each other by any known anatomical attribute or even biochemical genetic test, including DNA fingerprinting. Since a given breed of dog can not be defined by any scientific means currently known, our contention is that it is not possible to write any ordinance or law that would single them out for special treatment since they cannot be so defined in a legal sense. "Recently I attended a canine genetics workshop at Texas A & M University in which it was further emphasized that there is no biochemical genetic test that can even distinguish wolves from domestic dogs. "....I would taxonomically identify all wolves, wolf hybrids and domestic dogs as the species Canis lupus. Technically, the domestic dog and wolf hybrids should be designated as the sub-species "domesticus". [I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., Research Professor, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, The University of Georgia. Letter, 30, Jan. 1990]

Though the tradition of dog-taming for hunter-gatherer and perhaps more advanced cultures may date to even earlier periods than the currently accepted dates, the similarity between the Guanche and pre-dynastic Egyptian cultures in using hunting dogs is noteworthy in conjunction with the other facts which shall be brought to this cope of this paper. The antiquity of dog-taming by neolithic humans cannot be denied and it is upon the Guanche-inhabited Canary Islands that the practice continued at least until the Spanish invasions of the 1500s CE.

Egypt scholar Michael Rice indicates that the importance of animals and pets to the Ancient Egyptians, alike the proto-Guanches, transcended the mundane necessities of life such as hunting and became ritually important in their mythology:

After the emergence of the fetishes, the next phase of Egyptian god-making turned to invest certain animal forms with the prerogatives of divinity. The slate palettes which are amongst the earliest graphic representations to survive provide much evidence of this practice: scorpions, lions, bulls, the ubiquitous falcon, the ibex, gazelle, hounds are all shown as personifications of the gods, assisting the King in putting down his enemies or in conducting the rituals of the state. Men needed the power of animals; even the early Kings, in the later Predynastic period and the First Dynasty, called themselves by animal names: Scorpion, Catfish, Fighting Hawk, Serpent are four of the best known." [Egypts Making The Origins of Ancient Egypt 5000-2000 B.C., by Michael Rice, copyright 1990.]

Pharaohs such as the marginally important Tut-ankh-amen were often depicted in hunting scenes with their dogs chasing game although it is not currently known how the commoners used hounds, or if they saw them as nuisances, such as the wild dogs and jackals of the countryside, to be put away.

It is known that the proto-Guanches used dogs in hunting and the kings probably used them as well, for the breed was on the islands invaded by the Spanish and could not have crossed the seventy miles of ocean from northwest Africa without the aid of human beings; how long the breed had been on the Canaries is a matter of conjecture but as there has never been any evidence of Roman occupation or exploration of the Canaries, dating from at least the time of the Cartaginians, circa 200 BCE, if not with the expeditions between the Canaries and Berber northwest Africa circa 1000 BCE or earlier.

If it was well-known in the classical world how to circumnavigate large islands and travel between widely-placed cities within continents, why would the ancients, given ample economic or political reasons, or indeed in catastrophe, not have traveled further afield? David Eccott illuminates interesting new archaeological evidence to support to the ancient naval movements of northwest african Berbers:

They were able seafarers who explored the Atlantic Ocean as early as the first millennium BC and, as the Lixitae of classical tradition, acted as pilots, translators and perhaps even crews for Carthaginian sea-captains. Moreover, they are accepted to have been synonymous with the Guanches of the Canary Islands, who also utilised Egyptian religious symbolism a case made recently on British television by Egyptologist and mummy expert Joanne Fletcher. [David Eccott, http://www.andrewcollins.net/page/mysteries/deccott.htm]

Eccott also cites interesting information about the knowledge of the Roman geographers of the later classical era:

For instance, we have the evidence of the Roman wrecks laying uninvestigated off the coasts of Brazil and Honduras (and possibly even another in a river which forms the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua). Furthermore, Statius Sebosus, the Roman geographer of c. 100 BC, tells us that it was forty days sail from the Gorgades (the Cape Verdes) and the Hesperides (the Islands of the Ladies of the West, unquestionably the Caribbean see GATEWAY TO ATLANTIS). [Ibid]

There is a breed of dog, the Spanish Galgo, said to be descended from the hunting dogs of ancient Egypt and resembling the greyhound; this theory is explained by the writer:

We can be quite sure that the Spanish Hound is a descendant of the Vertades Romano, which reached Spain with the Romans. This roman race, itself a descendant of the Egyptians Hound resembles the pharaonic race. The only noticeable difference is the position of the ears as the egyptian dogs have erect ears and the Spanish Hound has rose-shaped ears.

Another theory is that the celts brought the Greyhound to the peninsula, when they settled in Gaul and thus the reason for its name in latin "canis gallicus". There
There is no doubt that the Spanish Hound is a descendant of the ancient pharaonic dogs. There is also another, more illogical, theory which says that it is a descendant of the Sloughi, and arrived in Spain with the arabs in the ninth century.

The latest investigations point to the fact there were two branches of similar dogs from different points (the Romans and the Celts) and the successive crossbreeding through the years could explain the differences that exist between the Ibizan Hound and the Spanish Hound. [De Vil Kennel, http://www.sendanet.es/sastre/DeVilKennel/history.html, 2002]

Regardless of the dates of the arrival of the hounds of the Canaries, there is currently no evidence to prove that the dogs of the Canaries were in fact indigenous to the islands before the submersion of what became the land shelves beneath that island archipelago, and that therefore they had to be brought either by the proto-Guanches or some earlier indigenous population or populations. Recent evidence from archaeological digs has indicated a human presence from at least 6,000 years ago, far back-dating the presence of human inhabitation on those islands.

It is interesting to note that Plato recorded the Kings of Atlantis as wearing the skins of dolphins and that they figured into their mythology as kings of the sea, such as Poseidon. The Canaries also have a population of sea mammals including:

There are also sea mammals: dolphins (Delphinus delphus and Tursiops truncatus) and whales (Physeter macrocephalus and Globicephala macrorhynchus) and something called in Spanish Zifo comun (Ziphius cavirostris). [Fauna de las Islas Canarias by Jose Manuel Moreno, Ediciones Turquesa, 1992]

These mammals, like the hounds of the land, have a reputation for being friendly to man and especially to sea-farers.
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