PhD defence by Anne Kathrine Runge


PhD student Anne Kathrine Runge will defend her PhD thesis with the title:

​​“A Different Perspective on Canid Domestication: Insights from Gastrointestinal Content and Palaeofaeces”

The first dogs appeared in Eurasia at least 15,000 years ago and is widely regarded as the first domesticated species in human history. However, while deciphering the origin of the dog has received extensive attention from researchers over the past 20 years, the later stages of the dogs history have been largely neglected. This PhD thesis attempts to elucidate the relationship between humans and archaeological canids through state-of-the-art bimolecular techniques. These analyses are used to study the gastrointestinal content of the Tumat Puppies, two Late Pleistocene canid mummies, as well as dog palaeofaeces from the Early Holocene Zhokhov Island site in Siberia, Russia and from the pre-contact Nunalleq site in Alaska, USA. The results are used to evaluate the hypothesis that the Tumat Puppies are littermates and their suspected association with a possible mammoth butchering site. The results also demonstrate the viability of using palaeofaeces to reconstruct dog diet in the past and show that this information can be used to understand the strategies employed by ancient cultures to manage and provision for their dogs. The thesis further presents the first successful application of palaeoproteomics to palaeofaeces. Together, these case studies show that the analysed substrates contain important information about ancient subsistence strategies and although they are hampered by a number of methodological challenges, have great potential for future dietary studies.