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V.a Linseele, W.b Van Neer and S.d Hendrickx (2007)

Evidence for early cat taming in Egypt

Journal of Archaeological Science, 34(12):2081-2090.

The remains are described of a young small felid found in a Predynastic burial at Hierakonpolis, Upper Egypt. Osteometric and zoogeographical arguments indicate that the specimen, dated to around 3700 B.C. on the basis of the associated pottery, belongs to Felis silvestris. In the same cemetery several other animal species, both wild and domestic, have been found. The left humerus and right femur of the cat show healed fractures indicating that the animal had been held in captivity for at least 4-6 weeks prior to its burial. We believe that this pathology suggests early cat taming more convincingly than a buried cat recently reported from Neolithic Cyprus (7500 B.C.). Such taming events were probably part of the processes that eventually led to the domestication of Felis silvestris. However, the absence of the cat in Predynastic and Early Dynastic depictions and its rare attestation in the archaeozoological record indicates that domestic status had not yet been attained during those early periods. Other species that were also held in captivity by Ancient Egyptians probably never became domesticated because they had one or more characteristics that prevented it. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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