A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cats on the Athenian Acropolis



Wordless Wednesday

Cats on the Athenian Acropolis,
7 April 2014,
By Jean Housen (Own work)
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons.
 The fact that one of these cats is a Miss C look-alike is a complete and total coincidence.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Italy’s Earliest Domestic Cat—As Far as We Know Right Now



Miss Cuddlywumps considers the life of an Italian cat from the 9th (or 8th) century BCE



Modern black cat of Largo di Torre Argentina‎, Rome.
By Nicholas Gemini (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons.
Once upon a time, some 2,800 years ago, there was a cat that lived in a hut that was in village near what is now Rome. The village is now called Fidene; I do not know what it might have been called back then. I also do not know what the cat’s name might have been, or even if he or she had a name. But the cat lived in the hut and kept mice and other unwanted creatures away. She (or he) probably also entertained the people in the hut with his (or her) playful antics, because that is what cats do.

Then one day came a sudden fire. How it started, I do not know. The people escaped the hut safely, but the poor cat did not. He (or she) hid in a corner, terrified and unable to get away. Eventually, the hut’s roof collapsed and the little cat died, and there her (or his) remains lay for over 2,000 years, until they were discovered by archaeologists.

Scientists studied the bones of the cat and determined that she (or he) had indeed been a domestic cat. How old was this cat? The pieces of pottery found nearby were conventionally dated to the early or mid 8th century BCE (around 770 BCE), but radiocarbon dating of charcoal and charred seeds suggested an earlier date, say from the mid to late 9th century BCE (around 850–820 BCE). Either way, this is the earliest domestic cat known from Italy. Not literally the “first cat in Italy,” but the earliest cat we know of so far.

I do hope he (or she) had a name.

*Today’s brief post was inspired by a tweet and blog post (“Italy’s First Moggy”) by classicist Mary Beard. Sadly, the entire post wasn’t about a cat, but at least the cat made it into the final paragraph, which I suppose will have to do. Additional information came from Nijboer et al. (2001), “A High Chronology forthe Early Iron Age in Central Italy.”