Roman Era cat burial discovered at Berenike

Archaeologists conducting excavations at the ancient harbour town of Berenike at Red Sea, Egypt, discovered over 80 burials of cats dated to Roman times. The site functioned between the end of the 1st century AD into the first half of the 2nd century AD.

Various pet burials (by Marta Osypińska via International Business Times)
Various pet burials (by Marta Osypińska via International Business Times)

According to the archaeologists of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences animals the site is a unique example of the burial of household pets in Roman times. Normally, animals buried as part of religious or spiritual ritual ordinarily have artefacts buried with them, but most of the animals found at Berenike did not have any, except some cats found with an ostrich egg shell bead by their necks and three cats and a vervet monkey were buried with iron collars on.

Documentation of the burial (by Marta Osypińska via International Business Times)
Documentation of the burial (by Marta Osypińska via International Business Times)

So far, the only species found in such double burials are cats, and significantly, they always contain an adult and a juvenile. The cat graveyard is found next to the ancient military port town in an area known to archaeologists as the Early Roman trash dump. But at the time the cats were being buried, it was a clear undulating area on the outskirts of Berenike. According to the archaeologists, these finds should be interpreted as a cemetery of house pets rather than deposits related to sacred or magical rites.

(after Marta Osypińska and International Business Times)

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