World’s Oldest Pet Cemetery In Egypt Confirms That Pets Were Indeed An Ancient Custom
A life without our beloved four-legged companions is unimaginable, yet many scholars believe that our ancestors in antiquity were not familiar with the concept of “pets.” A new study, however, in World Archaeology journal seems to be putting this assumption to an end. Turns out after all that throughout Ancient Egypt, pets were a custom, as was discovered in what is now confirmed as the world’s oldest pet cemetery.
Polish Zooarchaeologist Marta Osypińska has found enough evidence to conclude that a 2,000-year old animal burial site in Egypt’s Berenice is in fact, the world’s oldest pet cemetery.
Originally uncovered in 2011 by a team of Polish archaeologists, the Red Sea cemetery hosts the bodies of 536 cats, 32 dogs, 15 monkeys, one fox, and one falcon. None of the animal bodies there were mummified, but all were placed in a sleeping position. Furthermore, evidence shows that many of these presumed pets died of old age; in fact, some were deformed, and must have had someone taking care of them. A fact indicating that these animals were indeed pets.
There were other clues to prove this presumption, including the fact that many of the cats wore iron-made collars or beaded necklaces, “sometimes very precious and exclusive,” Osypińska said to Live Science.
Located 140 kilometers south of Marsa Alam, Berenice is an ancient seaport located on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. The study shows that the cemetery was operational for 100 years, between the first and the second centuries A.D. Osypińska believes that sailors, merchants, and locals, buried their beloved companions in the sea port’s animal cemetery, which is now considered to be the World’s Oldest Pet Cemetery.