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German archaeologists froze a medieval children’s burial with a dog with liquid nitrogen

The ancient puppy’s collar had a bell on it.

The fitted wooden coffin was small, just 2.6 feet (80 centimeters) long. Although its wood had decayed long ago, the archaeologists found an ornamental iron tag and nails that had once decorated and held the coffin together. The coffin had been placed in a larger pit that held the remains of the pet puppy and several terracotta containers, the archaeologists said.

Whoever buried the toddler filled the terracotta containers with food and drink and placed them around the youngster’s coffin. In those times, it was customary to divy up the funeral banquet, serving portions to the living and burying the rest with the deceased. In this instance, the burial contained half a pig and servings of ham (the meat from the pig’s thigh), pork and two headless chickens, the archaeologists said.

The team also found miniature vases and two glass pots that may have held oils or medicinal products, but researchers won’t know for sure until they do chemical analyses on the artifacts, they said.

The other grave goods included an ornamental copper pin and a nearly 12-inch-diameter (30 cm) iron ring next to a bent rod, which may have been a hoop-and-wand-like toy. The end of the rod lay between the legs of the puppy, which was placed at the deceased’s feet, outside the coffin. Like the other grave goods, the puppy’s collar was remarkable — it was adorned with 15 bronze decorations, as well as a bell.

The burial also contained a small but “touching” discovery: a baby tooth placed inside of a shell, the archaeologists said. Perhaps, the tooth belonged to a sibling of the deceased, they said.

The archaeologists plan to continue excavations at the site until February 2021.