Remains of 1000-years-old skinned cats found in Spain

Archaeologists in East Spain discovered remains of cats at the site of El Bordellet, that were potentially skinned about 1000 years ago for the Medieval cat-fur industry or some sort of alleged ritual.

Bones of the cat and the parts of skull and bone still connected (B-D) (by Lluís Lloveras & International Journal of Osteoarchaeology)

The site was discovered during highway construction in 2010. Recent excavations revealed nine pits that likely held crops from medieval farms, as well as bones from sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, dogs and horses. One pit contained remains of about 900 domestic cat bones – carbon dating of one of them resulted in dates between 970-1025 AD. Most of the felines were 9 to 20 months old when they died. The number, angle, intensity and location of the cut marks and fractures seen on the bones were consistent with those seen in prior experiments where researchers skinned a variety of animals, indicating that the cats were likely skinned. According to archaeologists the age of the animals suggests they were likely the best for cat-fur usage, when the felines were relatively large but their fur was still free of damage, parasites or disease. According to archaeological finds and medieval texts cat fur was often traded during the Middle Ages and was used for making garments, mainly coats. However, other animal remains uncovered alongside the feline bones included a whole horse skull, a goat horn fragment and a chicken eggshell, suggesting the animals might have been used in a magical pagan rite.

(after Lluís Lloveras, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology & Live Science)

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