The sausage dogs could have been created to fight bears in ancient Rome’s Colosseum, archaeologists have said

Dachshund (L), the Colosseum in Rome, Italy (R).Getty Images

  • The remains of sausage dogs have been found in the drains of the 2,000-year-old Colosseum.

  • Archaeologists have said they may have been created for fighting bears or performing stunts in ancient Rome.

  • Bones of lions, bears and ostriches were also found, along with the remains of spectator snacks.

Packs of sausage dogs may have been created for fighting larger animals like bears or performing stunts in the Colosseum in ancient Rome, archaeologists have said.

Archaeologists said they first found the remains of small dachshund-like dogs as they excavated the drains of the iconic 2,000-year-old amphitheater, The Telegraph reported.

“We found many dog ​​bones that were similar to the modern sausage dog,” Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum, told The Telegraph.

“They were less than 30cm [11.8 inches] in height. We think they may have been used to perform stunts, just as you would see in a circus today. Or it could be that they were used as part of organized hunts or even launched at bears and such animals. We don’t know for sure.”

“Venatio” was a type of entertainment in ancient Rome that involved various animals being pitted against each other in fights or being trained to perform stunts.

The dogs would have been ancestors of sausage dogs rather than true dachshunds, the paper noted.

The modern dachshund breed emerged in early 18th century Germany and was developed for burrowing and hunting badgers – Dachs means rate in German. They were “bred to be an independent hunter of dangerous prey. They can be brave to the point of recklessness,” according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Colosseum archaeologists also found the bones of large dogs, leopards, lions, bears and ostriches in the ancient drains.

The discoveries were made during a year-long study, during which archaeologists sifted through 70m of drains and sewers beneath the Colosseum, which could seat up to 50,000 spectators.

Along with the animal remains, they also found the remains of snack foods viewers allegedly ate, including fruit, nuts and olives.

They also uncovered more than 50 late Roman bronze coins and a silver coin commemorating the rule of Emperor Marcus Aurelius around AD 170-171, popularized by the film Gladiator, according to The Telegraph.

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