the great ziggurat of Ur
Brick from the great ziggurat of Ur housed in the British Museum


Dogs have been companions to humans for many thousands of years now. They are faithful, loyal creatures that have left indelible marks upon our lives in so many ways, both literally and figuratively. Archeologists often find that they’ve been buried alongside their masters or laid at their feet in ancient tombs and burial plots around the world, demonstrating the special place they’ve held in our hearts. But sometimes they leave their marks in other ways, like wet cement.

Paw Prints as Signatures

There are probably more than a few of you out there that can nod your head at that last sentence. You’re probably thinking right now of the patio, pool deck, driveway or sidewalk you had poured only to find when it had dried that Scruffy or Mr. Piffles left their signature in the form of a paw print — or two — in the set concrete. Well, take heart, because dogs have been doing it for thousands of years.

Ancient City of Ur

Back somewhere between 2112-2004 BC in the ancient city of Ur bricks were produced for the construction of a ziggurat. Ziggurats were built by the ancient Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and other peoples in the region for local religions. Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex, which also included other buildings. They basically served as an administrative center for cities.

Early Bronze Age

During the Third Dynasty of Ur, King Ur-Nammu dedicated the great ziggurat of Ur in honor of Nanna/Sîn. It was a massive step pyramid that measured 210 feet in length, 148 feet in width and over 98 feet in height. This shrine to the moon god Nanna, the patron deity of Ur, was constructed from both sun-baked and fired bricks. While it crumbled to ruin by the 6th century BCE, it was eventually restored.

Making your Mark in Life

Now, all that remains of the original structure in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq, are the foundations, but one of the bricks used still bears the mark of a wandering dog that left his or her paw prints forever captured in the clay that was used to form them. So you see, Mr. Piffles isn’t the only one to muck up the works of a construction project. Besides, over 4,000 years from now you never know who might find his print and marvel at the number of millenniums dogs have been leaving their mark imprinted on our lives.