CAT DOMESTICATION CONTINUED: THE MOSTAGEDDA TOMB, HIERAKONPOLIS, EGYPT

Skeletal remains of Felix Sylvestris at Hierakonpolis, cat domestication

Skeletal Remains of Felis Sylvestris at Hierakonpolis, Egypt

 

Recently, archeologists have discovered an African Wildcat, Felis Silvestris Libyca, in an Egyptian Pre-dynastic burial pit dating to around 3,700BC or to approximately 5,700 years ago.  The cat, buried along with a man curled into a fetal position, was wrapped in cloth, surrounded with items of jewelry and pots, not unlike the Cyprus find.  The Mostagedda tomb at Hierakonpolis, near modern day Asyut, was the capital of Upper Egypt from approximately 5000-3100 BC (Linseele, 2007). Evidence from this tomb refutes claims that the cat had not been domesticated prior to the 11th Dynasty. A theory based on the fact that no representations of cats were found in the Pre-dynastic periods.

In all probability, cats were domesticated more than once and in various locations at varying times (Mott, 2006).   This would not be unlikely since Felis Silvestris Libyca, the ancestor of all domesticated cats, ranged from Arabia and the Near East to Southern USSR, east to China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern and central India; Sardinia, Corsica and Majorca; North Africa, as well as savannah regions south of the Sahara (Ewer, 1997). However, as archeologists continue to unearth more ancient villages, a more exact date and place for the first domestic relationship between cat and man may be discovered and proven.  In any event, man’s bond with cats has been a long and enduring one.

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