Veterinary Past

Roman dog burial in Tongeren (Belgium)

  • L. A. A. Janssens


A skeleton of a large mature, probably male, dog was excavated in the city center of Tongeren, once a Roman city in Belgium. Together with the skeleton, a circular food bowl in terra sigillata pottery was discovered, positioned near the mouth of the dog, from which the upstanding edges had been removed. This was interpreted as a grave offering, representing symbolically that care was taken of the animal after death but that the bowl had become useless now. This habit of adding a circular bowl also fits in a Celtic mythical tradition, with dogs biting off pieces of the full moon and creating the moon cyclus. Circular bowls represent the moon and are related to the mythical dogs or wolves. The archeological find is exceptional but fits into the long standing tradition of dog burials, starting 14 200 years ago with the Bonn Oberkassel dog and continuing into the present. Up till now, some owners still add goods to the resting place of their pets.

How to Cite:

Janssens, L., (2018) “Roman dog burial in Tongeren (Belgium)”, Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 87(2), 105-108. doi:

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Published on
29 Apr 2018
Peer Reviewed