Friday, September 25, 2009

Pet cats in Neolithic Cyprus

All house cats are descended from one of five females of the wild species Felis silvesteris lybica, which originated in the Middle East. cats likely first became domesticated as they moved into human settlements, and were efficient at rodent control in homes, and in fields of wheat. and barley. There's no indication that a "Tweety" bird accompanied Felis Sylvesteris:).

The origin of the domestication of cats goes back far beyond ancient Egypt. A grave where a human and cat were buried together that dates back 9500 years was discovered on Cyprus in 2001 in the Neolithic village of Shillourokambos. Cats are not native to Cyprus but appear to have been brought to the island about this time, as were pigs, goats , deer and cattle. Cats likely served a dual function; as pets and as a means of rodent control. It's clear that cats did have a special meaning, due to the proximity of cat and human in the grave. The grave also contained a number of ceremonial offerings, such as ochre and seashells.

Here is the grave.

Here is a recent video of cats in Cyprus.