The Coolest Thing I have Ever Found Part 1: Samson the Iron Age Thai Dog

As an archaeologist, there are two frequently asked questions:

1. What are you looking for?

2. What is the coolest thing you have found?

I never have an answer for the first question, the whole point of archaeology is the sense of adventure and not know what you will find!

To answer the second question, Samson is the coolest thing I have ever found.

Samson was found in January 2010 during the Ban Non Wat field season in Northeast Thailand. I was working with my friend Alison (see her blog here) on a large six by four excavation pit.  Initially, the top of the skull was found. I had no idea what we had stumbled across, as my dog anatomy was pretty limited. As we excavated down, we came to realize that we had a full dog skeleton on our hands.  To add to this, Samson had his own burial good of two bowls!

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From the burial remains, we have estimated Samson to be from the early Iron Age. He (the initial assumption was that he was a he, we are yet to confirm the sex) was a very large dog, possibly a wolf hound, with some believing that his bread may have come down from China. What can be concluded is that this was one loved puppy. Other full dog remains have been found at the site, but have not had such love and care taken in their burial.

Everyone became very love-sick for their animals back home and I can’t blame them. Someone dearly loved this dog and went to great lengths to show that in his burial.  Samson is one of the most interesting finds that I have seen in Thai prehistoric archaeology in Northeast Thailand.


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