Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts

Saturday 10 July 2021

World's oldest known pet cemetery

There may be others, currently unknown, but the oldest recorded pet cemetery in the world is in the Egyptian port of Berenice. The map shows you where it is. The archaeologists have been digging in what appears to be a rubbish dump in that city and they have discovered a burial ground which is nearly 2,000 years old. 

The interesting aspect of this pet burial ground is that they have decided that the animals buried there were genuine pets and not sacrifices to the gods. Many thousands of animals particularly cats were bred and killed for sacrifice but this is not the case with these animals. They were often old and buried in a very careful way sometimes with collars and with objects which indicated that they were cared for.

Cat buried at the world's oldest known pet cemetery
Cat buried at the world's oldest known pet cemetery. Photo: Marta Osypińska

Unsurprisingly the vast majority of the remains are of cats reflecting this era of cat worship which did not genuinely translate to great cat care. Of the 585 animals that they excavated 536 were cats, 32 were dogs; there were 15 monkeys, one fox and one falcon. Not one was mummified. Some were in makeshift coffins. They decided that the animals were old and sick, more evidence that they were genuine pets and looked after until they died of natural causes rather than being killed for sacrifice. In Ancient Egypt often kittens were killed for sacrifice and mummified and cat mummies were sometimes scams by priests. This is one reason why it can't be said to be a golden era for cats. Wild cats were also sacrificed and buried on river banks. The remains of 80,000 wild cats were found on the Nile's riverbanks.

Some of the cats were wearing collars made from iron or beaded necklaces. Sometimes the ornaments were precious. They also found a piece of ceramic with text on it. This is called an ostracon. In this instance the text told the cat's owner not to worry about their cat because someone else was looking after him or her. This seems to be an early version of cat sitting! But it strongly supports that pet ownership was alive and well in Ancient Egypt.

Perhaps at one time people thought that ancient Egyptians did not have a concept of pet ownership or what we prefer to call 'pet guardianship' or caretaking. But that thought was perhaps always misplaced for several reasons one of which is that the first known pet was a wild cat buried with their owner on Cyprus almost 10,000 years ago. That, the experts believe, is evidence of the beginning of cat domestication, pet ownership and the concept of pets.

Berenice is a port as mentioned and perhaps it is a place where more than 2,000 years ago traders came on ships with their companion animals including cats, dogs and the occasional monkey brought from India.

The remains of the animals had been well preserved by the dry Egyptian desert. The photograph shows the remains of a cat buried in a blanket. We can see the cat's canine teeth and we have a glimpse of their incisor teeth as well.

The archaeologist in charge of the dig was researcher Marta Osypińska, a zooarchaeologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.

P.S. There is one aspect of archeology with which I strongly disagree. They are exhuming the remains of people and pets. Is this not disrespectful of both? We rightly have to get permission and have a good reason to exhume someone buried in a graveyard but when animals and pets are buried thousands of years ago it is a free for all. Something wrong there.

Saturday 19 June 2021

Cairo authorities poisoned domesticated stray cat who mixed with Film Festival celebrities

NEWS AND COMMENT: a calico (tortoiseshell-and-white), fully domesticated community cat who lived with her kittens in the area around the Cairo Opera House has been poisoned with her kittens by the authorities because the Opera House complained about them. This was a cute and charming, effectively domestic cat, who interacted with film stars at the Cairo Film Festival earlier and the celebrities loved it. She had been dubbed "Festival Cat". It is the kind of thing that happens sometimes when cats wander off the street and judging by the photographs it seems that this cat enhanced the event. It gave the cameramen something to focus on.

Cairo authorities poison domesticated stray cat who mixed with Film Festival celebrities
Cairo authorities poison domesticated stray cat who mixed with Film Festival celebrities. This is Festival Cat who was poisoned together with her kittens.

And in Cairo they have quite a lot of street cats which are better described as 'community cats' because they are domesticated. But the authorities don't like them and neither apparently does the Opera House. They lower the tone, I guess. Conversely, the citizens have a much more tender approach to these animals and once they'd learned about the "murder" of this cat and her kittens they were outraged and protested. They posted messages on the Opera House's Facebook page. I believe that these posts have been deleted quite quickly because I can't find them.

The point is this though that a single vulnerable calico cat on the streets of Cairo is nothing to the authorities. She was 'just a cat' and they can be dispatched; culled in an expedient way without compunction or conscience. It is the people who have a conscience. And what is particularly mindless about this event is that another cat will no doubt move into the vacant space that was once occupied by "Festival Cat".

So, the activities of the authorities in this regard were mindless and cruel. The animal welfare laws of Egypt allow them to kill stray cats like this. It is entirely legal in that country. Although they can't kill domestic cats. I don't think that that is a particularly wonderful thing because if the authorities killed domestic cats, they will be destroying someone's property and engaging in criminality.

And this "murder" of a charming community cat brings to mind what we are taught, namely the veneration of the cat by ancient Egyptians thousand years ago. They worshipped cat gods such as Bastet and the impression is that it was a golden era for domestic cats. But was it? You might not be aware that commercial enterprises bred and killed hundreds of thousands of kittens and then mummified them to be offered up as sacrifices to the gods. This cannot be described as an example of the activities of cat lovers. It seems to me that the attitude of the elite in Egypt regarding cats was the same then as it is now: rather callous, self-indulgent and careless but not loving except for many individuals, citizens of Egypt who clearly are concerned and want to see animal welfare laws improved in their country.

Last February, the national administrative court in Egypt rejected a lawsuit by animal rights activists to stop the killing of stray cats. Once again, this highlights the disconnect between the authorities and the people of that country on the issue of animal welfare.

Wednesday 30 September 2020

The power of Facebook in rescuing animals internationally

This is an uplifting story from both Scotland and Egypt. The story starts badly with pictures of what would have been a beautiful white, long-haired, yellow-eyed cat of what appears to be of Persian origin, covered in purple and cyan paint. We are told that this beautiful cat was badly beaten and then covered in this toxic paint. We don't know the reason. There is no reason. It's the sort of cat abuse that you see anywhere in the world. Probably caused by a couple of kids having fun.

Rainbow - before and after. Photo: Debbie Stephens (SWNS).

Fortunately, the story picks up and gets a lot better because Debbie Stephens saw a picture of this cat on Facebook on the cat rescue page Safe Haven Egypt.

Debbie, 56, agreed with her husband, Craig, to fly this beautiful cat to Scotland. The cat rescue organisation named the cat Rainbow and he's arrived in Scotland after months of delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The picture of the painted cat broke Debbie's heart. She said that he is very loving and that his ordeal has not changed his character. The struggle to adopt was quite long because Debbie first approached Safe Haven Egypt in November 2019.

Rainbow's coat was shaved off and has regrown. A few blotches of paint remain. The cat's name is a reminder to Debbie of what happened to him so she kept it.

"It feels good we have been able to give him a forever home and we are very pleased as he could have died after what he had been through." - Debbie

Safe Haven Egypt is a cat sanctuary run by volunteers in Cairo. They have been in operation since 2015 and it was set up by a couple of friends, Kareema Ibraheem and Walae Besade. Kareema said that when they found Rainbow he was terrified. No doubt he is now relaxed, contented and in good hands. Well done to Debbie and Safe Haven Egypt.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts