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Monday 13 August 2007

The archaeology of cat

Knowing what SS does, all those who know her must be expecting this.

Since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians, cats have been cherished as companions, worshipped as idols, and kept as agents of pest control and good luck. Images of cats began to appear in Egyptian art at about 2600 B.C. and took on a more prominent role after 1600 B.C. But now French archaeologists have found evidence that our close relationship with cats may have begun much earlier.

The carefully interred remains of a human and a cat were found buried with seashells, polished stones, and other decorative artifacts in a 9,500-year-old grave site on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in 2001. This new find, from the Neolithic village of Shillourokambos, predates early Egyptian art depicting cats by over 4,500 years .

A combination of factors is seen as evidence that the cat and human were intentionally buried together including the good state of preservation of both remains, the burial of an entire cat without any signs of butchering, and the proximity of the skeletons—just 40 centimeters (16 inches) apart. Analysis suggests that the cat was just eight months old at death and was possibly killed in order to be buried alongside the human.

In contrast to cats, intentional burials of dogs and puppies with humans occurred earlier and have been more common in the archaeological record. The earliest are known from the Natufian stage, 12,000 years ago in Israel.


Islay said...

Dear Momo,

You certainly have some very interesting information here; I enjoyed it very much, and so did my owner. We love to see how much humans have loved their animals throughout the milennia.

Angel MoMo and Charlotte said...

Glad you like it. SS was showing me pictures of the burial, skeleton and all. I didn't want to put it up as it may upset some people. The little cartoon is much more acceptable.