Wildlife Wednesdays: Ancient Pet Cemetery Found in Egypt | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Ancient Pet Cemetery Found in Egypt

A pet cemetery, which included the remains of around 600 cats, dogs, and monkeys, was unearthed in Egypt. Researchers concluded that this dates back to around 2,000 years! This cemetery was actually discovered around 10 years ago but researchers were unsure if the animal bones found represented a genuine burial or if the bones were "discarded as trash." The cemetery was found at the ancient Red Sea port of Bernice and researchers recently concluded, after analysis, that this burial place was a resting place for beloved pets and not trash. The finding makes it the world's oldest known pet cemetery. 

According to the journal World Archaeology, "a team of excavators revealed that the site contained a total of 585 deceased animals, each of which had been laid to rest in a carefully dug pit. Thought to have been in use from the first to the second century CE, the cemetery provides an eternal home to a range of different species, some of which were not native to Africa." 90% of the remains found were cats, which made up of mostly small European breeds, but some larger Egyptian felines were found too. Many had collars and other accessories that indicted their status. The researchers were even able to analyze the stomach contents of some of these cats "noting that the animals were fed with ‘selected’ food that would not have been available to non-domestic cats." Dogs were also found in the cemetery making up for about 5%. Many of the animals found in the pet cemetery lived to an old age and also showed signs of having lived with injuries or diseases. 

The authors "believe these findings give new insights into life in Ancient Egypt, particularly the “relationships between humans and animals whose only task could have been providing a person with companionship, perhaps emotional entertainment.”